The Turnpike Troubadours feature a reference to geography right there in their name, and on their album Bossier City, in song after song (including, of course, the title tune), they locate themselves in one place or another, most of those places in the Southwest states of Oklahoma (their home base), Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas (though they do recall having gone to "hell in Nashville, Tennessee" in "Rollin' On"). The other part of the group name, troubadours, is justified by singer/songwriter/guitarist Evan Felker, for whom the band is really a platform. Felker has a twangy tenor that makes him sound like a little brother of Steve Earle and a nephew of John Prine, and there are plenty more twangs in the guitars, mandolins, and fiddles that support him in the country/folk/rock arrangements. Felker's lyrical persona is the familiar one of a down-and-out country boy, drowning in alcohol, yet inspired by equal measures of wanderlust and hopeless romantic feelings for women he knows are out of his league. The singer's character is established in "Come November," which finds him, having spent his last quarter on a phone call to his paramour, telling her how desperate he is before signing off, "See you in the fall, if I see you at all." In "Bossier City" itself, the third-person character is preparing to "drink his cares away," and as the album goes on, things only get worse, bottoming out in the story-song "Angola." That's right, by this point our hero is in the notorious prison in that Louisiana locale, serving life without parole. Felker's world-view isn't exactly original, and he gets it across by leaning heavily on clichés. But his reckless heart is in the right place, and his band can rock like the Rolling Stones ("Rollin' On") or lay back and let him make like an Okie folkie ("Three Rivers Song"). Assuming he has some distance from the characters he's embodying in his songs, he may have more interesting things to say about them on subsequent efforts.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann