Over the course of their last few albums, Trummors, the duo of David Lerner and Anne Cunningham have carved out their personal cavern in the space of Cosmic Americana, well before the current wave began to crest. The pair ditched the East Coast for New Mexico, trading packed streets for pure air, vista views, and a closer handle on the alt-country confines they were beginning to inhabit. With their previous album Headlands they’d pretty much cemented the sound that crops up here, but there’s something alchemical about Dropout City that marks it among their best endeavors to date. The band struck out from the desert back to the sweltering streets of L.A. for the sessions that would birth Drop Out City and it was as far from their secluded surroundings as possible, embracing an air of collaboration that called in contemporaries to help shape the easy air that radiates around the album.
Once in the studio friends showed up and sat in, with the album blossoming into the kind of communal, comfortable ‘70s canyon classics that were spun out of late night sessions wrought from a high concentration of talent with tape to spare. Colby Buddelmeyer (The Tyde), Derek W. James (Mazzy Star, Lia Ices), Brent Rademaker (GospelbeacH, Beachwood Sparks), Clay Finch (Mapache), Dan Horne (Grateful Shred, Cass McCombs) and Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats) all lend a hand somewhere on Drop Out City and it quickly becomes clear that this is a record that’s special because of not only the talent of Lerner and Cunningham as songwriters, but also due to the inclusive environment they carry with them that brings so many into their fold with such open ideas.
The record captures a classic country sound — flirting with the heavy-hearted, but formative voices that lent credence to the ‘70s crossover out of psychedelic troupes. There’s a shade of Emmylou here, and by turns Graham. The honesty that surges between David and Anne is born out of that school of tradition meets turmoil and even though they seem at ease, it’s as deeply felt as anything the fabled pair might have made. Even more so, there’s the feeling that Trummors are leeching their love of the country corners to their peers, the way Parsons couldn’t help but make but instill a passion for twang among his brother Byrds. As David has already shared here, bands like Cowboy, circling the Allmans stable are heavy on their mind and that Byrds connection gets deeper with a cover of “Tulsa County.” The Byrds lifted their version from songwriter Pamela Polland, who released solo works in the early ‘70s following her work with The Gentle Soul. This song is almost a talisman of the album, a reclaimed nugget of weary country given back its voice after years of sitting among a more celebrated band’s back catalog. Drop Out City is just such a record — reverent, relevant, and full of a bittersweet bite that makes moments easier to endure with each note that wafts from the speakers. This one should shuttle to the top of your 2020 necessities.
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