I got into the country music game in high school, and unfortunately, that was when “bro country” was at its God-awful peak.
Every “country” song I listened to consisted of the same formula: girls, booze, bonfires, lifted trucks, and flat bills flipped back (basically every FGL song that’s ever existed). After a few years of listening, country music became borderline NAUSEATING to listen to. I found myself begging for country music that was different and authentic.
Before I gave up listening for good, I discovered an album that changed my perception on country music forever, and that was the Turnpike Troubadours’ 2010 album, Diamonds & Gasoline.
When I first listened to this album, the first thing that stuck out to me was the fact every song told a different story.
You have songs like “Diamonds & Gasoline,” which is about a man stuck between a life on the road and settling down, and “The Funeral,” which is about a runaway son who finally decides to come back home for a funeral. “Long Hot Summer Day,” a great blue collar anthem about a man working tough hours on the Illinois River. They say the mark of a great songwriter is when every song allows you to imagine the story going on in your head, and lead singer/songwriter Evan Felker does exactly that.
Another thing that struck me on the album was how every song hits every emotion.
“7 & 7” is an electric upbeat song that makes you want to get on your feet instantly with the opening electric guitar riff from lead guitarist Ryan Engleman. Then it’s followed up by “1968,” which is a chill song that makes you want to kick back and go on a drive. “Leaving & Lonely” can bring a tear to your eye every now and then. “Long Hot Summer Day” makes you want to grab a beer after a garbage day at work. “Every Girl” and “Diamonds & Gasoline” can make you want to fall in love.
I also can’t leave out the fact that the fiddle playing from Kyle Nix is absolutely stellar in this album.
Turnpike is a cornerstone of Texas/Red Dirt country music scene, argued by many as the greatest band in country music. And even if they’re not, their music has undoubtedly influenced so many different artists today such as Parker McCollum, Cleto Cordero of Flatland Calvary, just about every singer/songwriter in Texas, and even quite a few in the mainstream as well.
Personally, I can’t thank Evan Felker and the gang enough. If it wasn’t for them and Diamonds & Gasoline, I may not have ever gotten to experience the world of real country music.