As the world goes wonky with financial instability and summer temperatures in October (apart from Scotland where the heavens opened) Blabber’n’Smoke hunkered down in the bunker and set to listening to an album that’s been sitting on the hard drive for some time. Black River is purportedly the final album from Trailer Star, the last in a line of intriguing releases swathed in a mythology summoned from the mind of the man behind it all, Shaun Belcher, Originally Trailer Star was meant to be a legendary Berkshire bluesman who met an untimely end. As his executor Belcher was able to release a series of cassettes and CDs of his music. This culminated in a well received tribute album Moon Over the Downs where Belcher was able to corral a bunch of artists to cover his songs. Now he’s decided to draw to a close this episode with Black River stating
“This is Trailer Star’s final and exhaustive round up. All tracks recorded between 2005-2010. These are all the late great Trailer’s recorded tracks and signals the final volume in the three CD Trailer Archive series from Tstar records.”
Mythology apart the album sounds primitive, home made and home grown. The sound recalls the ambience Neil Young created with Campaigner, stripped down but chockfull of emotion. It’s intimate and ultimately very personal with songs relating to the death of Belcher’s father dominating the latter part. Much is said about the redemptive power of music and one hopes that these stark and dark tales ultimately did some good for the author.
For the listener it’s hard going at times but glory can come from misery. The canon is stuffed full of songs from disenfranchised black bluesmen, poor sharecroppers, troubled minds. Trailer Star mines the same seam as the late Skip Spence on some of the songs here. The fragility and the feeling of being on the edge of toppling over is balanced by the skeletal beauty of the songs.
The album is available in several ways, in fact the whole story of Trailer star can be read on the website where the various albums can be listened to and even on occasion downloaded. Head over there to look at the whole impressive saga.