High quality, mainstream Americana that never misses its target.
Given the assortment of musical styles, and the accompanying debate, as to what is and what isn’t Americana, it’s refreshing to come across an offering that sits squarely and unambiguously in the centre of the genre. Tylor & The Train Robbers is a hard-working band who routinely take their brand of country/roots rock on tour for over 200 days a year, and like much of the industry, their income ground to a halt as the world closed around them in the spring of 2020. Necessity though, is the mother of invention, and as with many others, they quickly shifted focus to virtual shows, building up a solid community of avid followers, many of whom also supported them through online subscriptions and donations, including crowdfunding effort to help create this album.
This hiatus in their touring life also threw up an opportunity, allowing the band time to write and record their third studio album ‘Non-Typical Find’, and for the first time they also took the opportunity to work with a producer from outside the band, in this case Cody Braun (of Reckless Kelly fame) while Rob Matson undertook mastering and engineering duties. Tylor & The Train Robbers has developed into something of a family band with Tylor Ketchum on guitars and lead vocals, his brother Jason Bushman on bass, and Johnny “Shoes” Pisano on guitars. In 2019 Tylor wed Jennifer Pisano, Johnny’s daughter, officially making him Tylor’s father-in-law and Tommy Bushman joined his brothers in the band. Well done if you followed all that, but the most important outcome of those family ties are the high quality harmonies that are in evidence throughout the album. They’re helped out here with the addition of Brian Davies on Pedal Steel, Bernie Reilly on keyboards, banjo and cello, while Cody Braun gets in on the act by providing fiddle and mandolin support.
The content of the 11 songs on the album is nothing if not varied, with tracks focused on current events along with love songs such as ‘Jenny Lynn’, written about Ketchum’s wife, contrasting with the title track, and its puzzling tale of human remains found near a cabin owned by one of Ketchum’s friends. The album though, ends on a positive note with ‘Silver Line’ as Ketchum explains “In the midst of the pandemic and being forced to do everything in new and different ways, I had a lot of time to reflect on what matters most. This song came from recognizing how dependent we are on external things and systems and how easily it can all fall apart. It got me thinking about the lessons that have come from this year and that even the worst circumstances can yield something good if you choose to see it that way.”
Comparisons with other bands are not always helpful, but there is something of a musical similarity between a few of the tracks (such as ‘Equation of Life’ and the aforementioned ‘Jenny Lynn’) with some of the music produced by bands like The Flatlanders. This is in no way meant to imply that Tylor & The Train Robbers are copying those legendary Texas troubadours, but it’s simply a testament to the excellence of the vocal harmonies and the quality of the music they have created on ‘Non-Typical Find’. This is a highly enjoyable album which is well worth a listen and more importantly, if you appreciate it, put your hand in your pocket and support quality, hard-working bands like Tylor & The Train Robbers by buying it.