The Lonesome Travelers are John Thomas Griffith and Paul Sanchez, both of whom have the same day job: playing guitar with Southern rock band Cowboy Mouth. Their acoustic-based duo project is, in their words, concerned with "American folk music in general," though what their debut album really tends to sound like is American country music in general, with strange (and usually rewarding) detours into circus music, gospel, and Flying Burrito Brothers-style country-rock. The latter influence is felt especially strongly on the opening track of the duo's eponymous debut, the jangly "Free Rambling Cowboy." But by the third song, what started out sounding like a relatively straight-ahead retro-country exercise takes a turn for the weird, with the trombones, heavily distorted guitar, and gospel-flavored chord progression of "Runaway Lovesick Train." "Fire Eater" is the song that brings in the circus flavor, with its calliope-sounding oom-pah-pah beat. The teary "Land of Broken Hearts" takes things back to a more standard-issue (not to say generic) country sound, whereas "In a Couple of Hours" creates a jazzier mood and their version of "Ain't It a Shame" rocks out like "Honky Tonk Women"-era Rolling Stones. Some of this album feels a bit thrown together, but ultimately that ends up being part of its rough-hewn charm. Recommended.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson