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
  •   LIVING WITH SNAEX  |  November 03, 2014
    Snaex's new record The 10,000 Things is all a big fuck you to what? Us? Lingering dreams of making music for others to consume? Society at large?  
  •   THE BIG MUDDY  |  October 24, 2014
    Some people just want it more.
  •   TALL HORSE, SHORT ALBUM  |  October 16, 2014
    If Slainte did nothing more than allow Nick Poulin the time and space to get Tall Horse together, its legacy may be pretty well secure. Who knows what will eventually come of the band, but Glue, as a six-song introduction to the world, is a damn fine work filled with highly listenable, ’90s-style indie rock.
  •   REVIVING VIVA NUEVA  |  October 11, 2014
    15 years ago last week, Rustic Overtones appeared on the cover of the third-ever issue of the Portland Phoenix .
  •   RODGERS, OVER AND OUT  |  October 11, 2014
    It’s been a long time since standing up and pounding on a piano and belting out lyrics has been much of a thing.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE