Golden Bear want to take you on a journey across the band’s home state of Texas. As implied by the title, the album is declared as a love letter to the lone star state. Recorded during lockdown, with all band members contributing their individual parts from home, the theme of wanting to be out on the road and travelling through the great wide-open spaces of their homeland is ever present.
A glance at the song listings on the album reads as a travel guide might, introducing the visitor to one of the great drives of the USA. Starting on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico with ‘Port Aransas’, moving on to ‘Mustang Island Mile’, ‘Texas Highway’, ‘Roadtrippin’, ‘CB Working’ and finally, the journey’s end at ‘Fort Davis Sky’. There is no ambiguity where this road trip is heading.
As for the music itself, there are jangly guitars and the upbeat licks that you might expect from an album designed to take the listener for a long ride in their pick up. And the intended audience for this journey is made clear, if it hadn’t been already, on ‘Roadtrippin’. “Well we’ve got the Doobie Brothers and the Eagles too, ain’t nothin’ better than being alone with you.” ‘Take It Easy’ also gets a mention here just in case you still hadn’t quite got the message.
The album has, alas, few real highlights with many of the tracks decent but unremarkable. There is some tight guitar work along the way but, with one exception, nothing to make you reach for the ‘replay’ button. That exception is the closing track, journey’s end, ‘Fort Davis Sky’. Here, frustratingly, is a hint at the heights the album could have reached. This is the closest thing to an early Eagles track that the band have produced here. With a lovely rhythm and mix of both acoustic and electric twang this is such a cracking track that it stands head and shoulders above anything that has gone before.
An album written during lockdown with a theme of escape and travel was probably a hugely cathartic process for Golden Bear. Let’s face it, we can all relate to those desires during this surreal year. But, whilst this project may have worked for the band, the resulting breakout album may have limited appeal beyond their beloved Texas.