Indiana-based folk rockers Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery wasted little time between a three song EP (We All Say Hello) and a new full length — and while the general stylistic makeup of the group’s harmonic and melodic sound is largely unchanged, the flow and energy throughout Traveler is a vast improvement. The infusion of genre-bending tonality and harmony, instead of the rigid acoustic folk rock sound that prevailed on We All Say Hello, allows Traveler to evolve and expand musically without feeling forced or one-dimensional.
Traveler’s diverse harmonies and improved lyrical structure is far superior to anything Powell and company has previously produced. Powell’s warbling and soothing vocals add immense depth and highlight every track without upstaging the rest of the band’s influence. “Full Dark, No Stars” introduces the album with Powell crooning tenderly with simple, yet heartbreaking, acoustic and electric guitar riffs accompanied by the rich tones of a cello. As the song starts to lull, the rest of the band enters with a bang — giving the track renewed life. The musical development of this first track sets the tone for the entire album. Not once is there a letdown.
All too often, particularly for independent artists, cover art seems an afterthought. In reality the design, color scheme and photography enhances the listening pleasure. How? Honestly, while listening to each track and reading the liner notes, there is a sense that the album is about time; how it is spent wisely or squandered. The sepia toning of the sun setting (or rising) over a country road is warm and inviting. The idea of riding off into the sun in concert with the feel-good, enriching music is inspiring and memorable.
Everything falls into place for Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery on Traveler. The differences between the We All Say Hello EP and this album are so immense that they might as well have been done by completely different bands. This emotional and energetic album is a solid listen and leaves you excited about what the future holds for this band on the rise.