• Review

REVIEW: Joe's Truck Stop - Yonderings

Y’all, life gets busy. Sometimes the things I promise to do get left undone, and then I sit and feel bad about being overwhelmed. I think about how I could use a getaway - A change of scenery where the elevation and the air and the sounds around me are noticeably different. I can always benefit from the company of good friends who sit and listen and can open up when I am there to listen as well. I think about those things from time to time, and when I am lucky enough to follow through on that travel or that visit, or maybe just finding some time to sit and unplug for a while, then I am pretty sure I have achieved a yondering. Joe’s Truck Stop has put together a collection of songs that put those feelings into sound quite appropriately, I’d say, so Yonderings just seems to sound right without ever even hearing the word before.

This collection of songs all seem to share a common thread of soul searching and expression. Folk music is often about the gritty grind of hard work or expressions of love to home and family. Yonderings is more about the freedom to move about, reflecting on the journey and journeys past, and enjoying the growth that comes from it all. As we move through the songs, the preamble has a plucky, jaunty vibe that only lasts a few seconds, then the first full song, “Wishin’ On a Star” begins to give us some reflections of a traveler laying back for a night along the way. It’s where I first wonder if this is what it means to yonder, and I think of all the little parts of other words I hear in that little mashup. Songs like “Midnight on the Ohio” sound old-timey, as though it could be playing on a radio in the parlor or on a honky tonk juke box. As lyrics go, Joe is wonderfully open about sharing inner feelings through lyrics that are easy to connect to.

A few of these songs are obviously personal, and what I love about them is that it is not exactly clear who they are for. “Still and Silence” and “Thank You” have heartfelt messages that I don’t need an explanation for to enjoy. These songs have lyrics I would be honored to hear spoken to me and I would only say to people I really cherished, so it feels like a peek into an artist’s deepest life when they are shared. I once heard advice from a songwriter that nobody is owed an explanation to your songs. You don’t need to fill in every detail and you don’t need to set anyone up with a backstory to make sure the song is as meaningful to them as it is to you. These two songs really achieve that as far as I’m concerned.

Joe’s Truck Stop sounds like old country songs most of the time, but every now and then they rip into bluegrassy fiddle tunes to remind you how fun it is to listen to each band member take a turn playing their instrument within an inch of its life. That’s where we go with “Winter Waltz”, then later on with “Pappy Hondo” and my favorite track, “Grease Fire”. Just top-notch instrumental goodness, not just performed well but cleverly written melody lines that go in some unexpected directions.

Hold on. I’m going to go play "Grease Fire" again.

Okay, I’m back. Another song that is way up there on my favorites list is “Smilin’ at Nothin’”, which I would love to sing along to but there are a lot of lyrics and it goes by fast. I figured it would take me a lot of plays to get it all down, but then I looked again at the cd case. The lyrics to every song are written across the inside cover. Liner notes! This is how you know a band was raised on old country records. Kids, back in the day artists used to just print their lyrics for you right in the album. Very nice throwback, Joe’s Truck Stop, and kudos on an outstanding album I am going to play many more times.

Wait, hold on. "Grease Fire" again.

Grab Yonderings today!