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Rose City Band - Earth Trip (Album Review)

Monday, 28 June 2021 Written by Graeme Marsh

Ripley Johnson’s third album under his Rose City Band guise is another to have benefited from lockdown restrictions. Johnson took advantage of the lull to connect with nature—sleeping under the stars, doing a spot of gardening and bathing outside. ‘Earth Trip’, therefore, feels like an album title with a purpose.

Bringing in guest Barry Walker on pedal steel guitar has also left a significant footprint on the album, coupled with Johnson’s familiar soloing. His fretwork is particularly striking thanks to stripping back the layers of fuzz we associate with the leader of Moon Duo and in particular, Wooden Shjips.

There’s also a considerably more laid back approach going on in comparison to 2020’s ‘Summerlong’, and with foot firmly off the gas ‘psychedelic country’ would be a good description of what lies within ‘Earth Trip’. 

World Is Turning epitomises this stance, appearing like an old favourite underpinned by Johnson’s dexterous guitar work. A couple of tracks stray into Creedence Clearwater Revival territory: Lonely Places deposits its country twang alongside some superb wah-wah soloing, while Ramblin’ With The Day chugs along like Bad Moon Rising as Johnson’s musicianship remains show-stoppingly impressive.

There’s also a certain Lloyd Cole and the Commotions ring to a couple of cuts. Album highlight In The Rain bears an uncanny resemblance to Cole’s 1980s band, and then the laid back Rabbit’s warped vocals contribute to something akin to Cole playing a lullaby. The overall pedestrian pace is not altered by closer Dawn Patrol or the earlier Feel Of Love, a trait apparent from the outset thanks to Silver Roses’ Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door-esque chords.

There’s no doubting the quality of the guitar playing on offer during ‘Earth Trip’, and it is by far the album’s greatest asset. A lack of variation is, however, a contributing factor to a lack of longevity. Coupled with the fact that so many songs spark memories of earlier works, there’s a feeling that originality was hardly at the top of Johnson’s to do list.


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