05 Dec 2009 // A review by lukefitzmaurice
Ok, I’ll admit, before I listened to this album, I had never really heard of Urban Tramper. Their name rang vague bells in the back of my mind, perhaps I’d heard snippets on the radio or seen a poster in the street somewhere, but if you’d played me one of their older songs I probably wouldn’t have recognised it. But if their new album, 'Rise & Ride Toward', is anything to go by, that is entirely my loss.
This album is a folk-pop gem, blending the two genres to excellent effect. It shifts at times from upbeat to morose and back again within the space of two or three songs, but at no point is originality ever in short supply.
The fifth track on the album, 'My Grand Plan', was probably my favourite, but I also really enjoyed the track 10, 'The Superhero’s Partner'. The former is one of the quicker, happier tracks on the album, while the latter is considerably slower and more downbeat, but both evolve into something quite remarkable. To me it highlighted the contrast the album provides, and really showcased the talent of the band.
I was often reminded of other Kiwi folk collectives like Fly My Pretties or The Woolshed Sessions, but that is not to say that Urban Tramper seem like copy cats. Rather, the feel of the album was as though I had been invited in from the cold to share secrets, swap stories, or simply marvel at a delicate piece of art, not wanting to speak too loudly for fear of spoiling the moment.
All the while the album retains a sense of refreshing simplicity. It is not particularly dense, there are no fancy effects, nor is there any sense of having to peel off the layers in order to access the true core of each song. The result is an album which feels remarkably honest. Urban Tramper don’t seem to be trying to impress anyone, and it is working wonders for them.