Travis Cyr recounts All the Best Things in Life

Mountain, of a man
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  November 23, 2011

beat2_traviscyr_main
You don't think of acoustic music as angry music? Travis Cyr might change that for you. Over the course of his third album, All the Best Things in Life, he purveys a rapid strum, a manic pace, and a cutting wit that forces you to take him seriously despite a reedy tenor that belies his substantial frame and a lot of pretty melodies on things like mandolin, banjo, piano, and fiddle (played by a variety of local lights — Putnam Smith, Greg Klein, Tyler Leinhardt, Nathan Cyr, Chuck Prinn, Leslie Deane, Joe Farrell, and Frank Hopkins, who recorded the whole thing).

It's hard not to peg a guy as cynical when he finishes a song like "Sabretooth" with a chorus of voices moving from full band accompaniment to a capella with the repeating phrase: "All good men, in the end, they end up dead." Which is both true and the kind of grounded observation that follows Cyr's litany of reality: "wood and rock, dust and ash, mud and stone, sand and glass, guilt and fear, panic attack, paper and plastic, garbage and trash."

By adding rock drums, occasional electric guitar, and simple fervor to folkish songs, Cyr ups the ante in much the same way that his best song here, "If I Had a Mountain," steps beyond the classic progressive tune "If I Had a Hammer." A sweet mandolin melody, more gritty than virtuosic, grounds the song, which manages to be a slow burn despite the quick acoustic strum of the guitar, "but such is war and peace and life." It might seem like you have all the time in the world, but then life rushes by before you know it.

Basically, Cyr never wants you to get too comfortable. By introducing digital whirs, even a recurring sound that sometimes like a dog whistle, he's evincing "Teaching and King" sentiment like "on the outside of the storm/We struggle to stay warm." Ultimately, though, he plays the part of optimist: "I think it's gonna be a beautiful day."

Does he believe that, though?

ALL THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE | Released by Travis Cyr | with Tricky Britches + Putnam Smith + Dark Hollow Bottling Co. | at the Empire, in Portland | Nov 26 | wix.com/traviscyrmusic/tc#!

  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Joe Farrell, Leslie Deane,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.
  •   AMOS LIBBY'S FIVE WEEKS IN THE HEART OF THE CONFLICT  |  July 23, 2014
    "(Israeli) immigration asked me at the airport why I didn’t leave when I could have and I said it was because I felt safe. They told me I was nuts.”
  •   WHAT YOU SAY, RYAN?  |  July 16, 2014
    Ryan’s calling card is his sincerity. While the production and presentation are of a genre, you won’t find him talking about puffing the chron or dissing women or dropping a million f-bombs or using a bunch of contemporary rap jargon. He’s got a plan and he executes it, with more variety and modes of attack than he’s had on display to this point.
  •   BETTY CODY, 1921-2014  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine music community lost a hidden giant last week with the death of Betty Cody, at 92.
  •   ADVENTURES IN LO-FI  |  July 11, 2014
    One obvious reason for heavy music is catharsis, a healthy release for all the built-up bullshit modern life entails. Like kickboxing class for suburban women, but with lots of black clothing and long hair.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE