With four albums since their 2007 debut, Bossier City, and hundreds of gigs that attracted thousands of rabid fans, the Turnpike Troubadours have become one of roots music’s most revered acts. The reputation for searing live shows spread by word-of-mouth, before they became one of Americana’s worst-kept secrets when their 2015 self-titled album landed near the top of the Billboard Country charts. So, was the pressure on when it came time to write and record their new effort A Long Way From Your Heart? “Oh yeah,” says Evan Felker, the band’s front man and main songwriter. “But I am lucky enough to work with people who can be trusted to let each other know if things are below quality or just too dang weird.”
He needn’t have worried. A Long Way From Your Heart is the band’s most accessible but richest offering to date, a collection of songs that range from blistering barnstorming rockers like “The Winding Stair Mountain Blues,” to the wistful, bouncy mid-tempo jam “Sunday Morning Paper,” and the spaghetti Western-tinged shuffle of “Pipe Bomb Dream.” Felker has evolved into a Red Dirt Springsteen, deftly blending autobiographical elements with complex, hardscrabble characters, each united in the midst of sun, spit, and dust.
A Long Way From Your Heart is out Friday, October 20, but Garden & Gun has the exclusive album premiere here. And don’t sleep on the band’s live show: Their tour also starts Friday night in their home turf of Oklahoma City before weaving through the South until mid-November.