Road musician, travel junkie Crosby Tyler over the years has absorbed music of everyone from Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy (among others) of the blues genre to the Beatles, Jim Morrison and the Doors to Johnny Cash by way of the folk singer-songwriters of the 1960s, Springsteen and as on the opening cut on his latest album ‘Lectric Prayer’ —is that a hint of Neil Young I hear?
The term Americana is Tyler-made for the likes of Crosby; sorry about the pun but I felt it was worth a try. Just like you should do with this album or better still go out and sample his music live —since he is currently in the middle of a tour of the UK and Ireland.
How would I define Tyler’s music? He reminds me of another guy who cares little for fame or dwelling on yesterday’s wine and that would be Grayson Capps — who is dynamite live and who, when it comes to stories about New Orleans and the like has more to tell than most anyone.
Tyler, who has links with among other places Los Angeles has in support of his own guitar those incredibly talented members of progressive bluegrass ensemble, Nickel Creek, Sara Watkins (violin, backing vocals) and her brother, Sean Watkins (tenor, guitar, mandolin and backing vocals), Sebastian Steinberg (stand-up bass, ‘busted’ banjo) and top session man Don Heffington (drums). As he spins such inviting tales as ‘Good ‘Ol Circus Days’, the feisty, slide-guitar aided blues fashioned ‘Pitchfork Brigade’ and with a pounding rhythm, fiddle and banjo support the ‘in the groove’ ‘Runaway Hellbound Train’ has him cut a swath rich in muscle plus, he is also given as strong harmony vocal assists as one could with for.
‘Back On The Cross’ featuring a bluesy harmonica intro is one of those deep and a little dark songs that have become the trademark of Ramsay Midwood and Ray Wylie Hubbard, and you won’t find me saying much wrong about either musician. On hearing Steinberg’s modal banjo styled work on ‘Train To Heaven’ —where there is a likeness to something Terry Allen once did his banjo really does sound busted! But it detracts none from the short, sharp vignette of old-time blues gospel fare.
With so much music having been absorbed by Tyler there are others acts who come to mind, too —like with ‘Bless This Day’ as folk singer-songwriters like Tim Hardin of the late 1960s cum early 1970s. As for his own life outside music he could just as easily be the man mentioned in his song ‘Fugitive In The Law’ and who if he was born in another age (and another race) worked on the infamous Mississippi Parchman Farm. So, if he is playing near you go along and see if he really is as good as he sounds (shame the musicians on the album aren’t going to be with him). Also Tyler has John Chelew (Blind Boys Of Alabama, John Hiatt and Richard Thompson) produce the album and boy, isn’t that some pedigree!
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