A few years back, the musical spirits of Hank Williams and Chuck Berry, Elvis and Buck Owens, Bob Wills and James Brown converged in Steve Ripley's
fertile mind at a legendary studio called The Church Studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"The musical stew out there is overcooked," says singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer Ripley
A continuation of The Tractors
not a repeat, notes Ripley
, Fast Girl does not utilize the previous set lineup but rather a revolving roster of musicians who collectively comprise what from the beginning has been Ripley's unique vision: "The Tractors
are a state of mind, a place I enter into to make the records.
My goal is for the records to take the listener to that same place.
It's a serious place and, at the same time, there's definitely a party going on."
Oklahoma native Ripley
grew up on a family farm, where he
first tractor, before picking up a guitar and heading out on the local honky-tonk circuit.
Ensconced at The Church Studio, it took Ripley five years to create The Tractors' self-titled debut album.
Released in 1994, there were few commercial expectations.
"We were not expected to be a hit," says the down-to-earth Ripley
"I had no intention of making some other kind of music as The Tractors
," says Ripley
Filled with the unexpected magic of first takes and the truth of false starts, Fast Girl employs modern technology and Ripley's
dogged persistence to recreate the "one mike, one room, no time" atmosphere of the '40s, '50s and early '60s--just like on his
Whatever Americana means, Ripley
surely knows what it sounds like because he's
experienced the life it reflects.
"I'm not a cowboy.
I'm a farmer.
I just keep the wheel in the furrow and keep moving on.
You get on the tractor and go round in circles and at some point the field gets plowed."
In Steve Ripley's
case, that field bears some mighty powerful roots, which thankfully have yielded yet another new musical crop from The Tractors
Producer: Steve Ripley
Fast Girl finds the Tulsa-based country boogiemeisters bouncing to their own metronome, led by head Tractor and chief songwriter Steve Ripley.
remains an adventurous, risk-taking knob-twister in his
own Church Studio, deftly deploying horns, piano, guitars, and backup vocals.
There's nothing too complex about this fourth album from the loosely organized band of country neo-traditionalists assembled occasionally -- though not often enough -- by Oklahoma native Steve Ripley
That's not the only time that Ripley
influences on his
The jaunty arrangement, which adds a dose of saxophone to the requisite pedal steel guitar, proves that Ripley
hired guns don't have that problem.
The band slows the tempo for "Ready to Cry," a lean but gorgeously arranged ballad about being on the edge of tears.
It's a terrific showcase for Ripley's deep baritone, which manages to sound rugged and vulnerable at the same time on a song that wouldn't sound out of place on an Iguanas album.
embraces his mission on "It's a Beautiful Thing," which examines the enduring power of Hank Williams and Chuck Berry against the tide of lesser competition.