August 2005

Greg Trooper - Make It Through This World
Sugar Hill SUGCD 1083
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by David J. Cantor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Greg Trooper’s Make It Through This World is very pleasing to the ear -- and also to the heart. The ear part owes much to the keyboard menagerie of Kevin McKendree, listed as playing "acoustic piano, Hammond B3 organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, Farfisa organ, Rhodes electric piano." At times his participation gives a gospel feel to tunes not far removed from that genre musically, though they are not religious. At other times, it adds the kind of soaring harmony and rhythm the organ has often lent to rock. But this is not to underrate the guitar licks of Bill Kirchen and Steve Fishell, the solid rhythm section, or the backup singers. The band is tight, seriously and playfully musical.

The heart part has more to do with Trooper’s compelling lyrics and straightforward singing. Trooper breathes life into what for some has become a facile method: Take any colloquial phrase and build verses, a refrain, and/or a bridge around it, whether or not they say anything interesting.

In Trooper’s title song, what at first appears to be a bland platitude -- "You’re gonna make it through this world" – takes on more precise and ironic significance in its various contexts. "I Love It When She Lies" is also interesting. The singer, as a child, "could never lie," and "if someone told a fib to me / They’d lose a friend and gain an enemy." But he loves it "when she lies to me" -- "Tells me that we’ll always be / Together for eternity / …tells me I’m the prize."

Witty yet not belabored or melodramatic, most of Trooper’s songs find their perfect beat and harmonic groove. This isn’t pioneering material. You can predict lots of the chord changes the first time you hear the album, and nothing on it sounds like it’s just in from Pluto. But the disc offers much of what I like: solid songwriting, skilled playing, and a fine, integrated sound.