Lil’ Cap’n Travis – …In All Their Splendor

Music Reviews Lil' Cap'n Travis
Lil’ Cap’n Travis – …In All Their Splendor

While so many roots-oriented performers and bands try their darnedest to sound either reverently authentic or zanily irreverent, Austin, Texas’ Lil’ Cap’n Travis opts for the tricky middle road (which in this case, to contradict W.S. Burroughs, is not necessarily the road to moderation.)

The band’s third outing comes on like the smart-ass younger brother of Son Volt. Both bands share a country-rock orientation, a penchant for world-weary vocals (Christian Braafladt’s drawl is a ringer for Jay Farrar’s), and a confident, chunky twang. The good Cap’n diverges from them, however, with a sardonic yet oddly good-natured sense of humor (think Camper Van Beethoven, They Might Be Giants, or the under-appreciated Marlee MacLeod) and giddy bursts of 1970s-rock-out noise.

Though almost every track has glistening, full-bodied pedal-steel guitar, the music leans more toward the country rock of the Flying Burrito Brothers than mainstream or honky-tonk country, which suits the genial, boozy ambience of “Bar Full Of Fans” perfectly. The bracing “The Grizzled Ones” combines Neil Young’s stoned guitar drone and the anthem-like glitter-stomp of Mott The Hoople. Not to imply this is a set of spot-the-influence pastiches or joke songs you’ll tire of after a few listens—Lil’ Cap’n Travis plays with economy, a nice balance of rawness and proficiency. They sing with plenty of heart, and their songs have subtly winning melodies that sink in deeper with each successive spin.

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