By: Jeremy Fleischer
If Fort Collins’ The Blind Alley Troubadours weren’t so damn good at what they do, they would easily get a foot trapped in the snare of cliché alt-country. Instead, on the debut LP, Color the Clay, they are clearly working to create their own place in that legacy.
While the band describes itself as “folk n’ roll,” the country influence is high in the Americana mix. John-Erik Priegel’s vocals strikes a nice balance between the hard life of whiskey and the sweet kindness of a good man. Likewise, subject matter balances classic country vices with the appreciation of the beautiful landscape of Colorado. Many lyrics are striking, like the title tracks’ reference to “my blood will color the clay.”
Karmen Mitchell, a classically trained violinist, is clearly a talented player, and brings an irreplaceable element to the sound. But the violin’s ever-presence can be a bit much. It’s as if the band knows her talent, and wants to showcase it. Fair enough, but knowing where a song needs the addition, and when it’s best to back off, makes all the difference. There’s some serious guitar shredding on here that could use more highlighting.
Studio: Stout Studios
Engineer: Darren Radach
Releasing: August 20, 2016