Lil' Cap'n Travis

In All Their Splendor

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With all of the exuberant buzz around Lil' Cap'n Travis, it's easy to be skeptical. How many alternative country bands, after all, have exploited country clichés and borrowed a few crunchy chords from Neil Young? In All Their Splendor, however, will do nothing to dismiss the cheerleaders on the sidelines. It's true: a number of no-depression groups have achieved decent results by throwing steel and honky tonk guitars into the mix, but Lil' Cap'n Travis also enjoys grafting on oddities from other genres to create a strangely intoxicating hybrid. "Natural Fool" could almost pass for some kind of country song, but the slightly trippy lead vocal and even trippier harmony turn it into the type of country song the Holy Modal Rounders might've recorded. With its three-four time, "Dapple Gray" trots along like a cowboy pony under the influence, while "Steady as She Goes" indulges in a bit of South Seas escapism. It's possible that the listener would grow tired of the novelty of it all, but Lil' Cap'n Travis does a good job of mixing up tempos, arrangements, and styles to keep things interesting. In fact, it's only when the band plays it rather straight, as on "Swimming Pool," that they seem to lose their direction. In All Their Splendor is a solid follow-up to Lonesome and Losin', and will please fans and anyone looking for a band that's able to escape the usual clichés.

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