The Stragglyrs | Downhill Sunset

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Rock: Country-Rock Rock: Americana Moods: Mood: Intellectual
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Downhill Sunset

by The Stragglyrs

A "Wild West" tale told in song: The Stragglyrs take their eclectic rock sound on a western bent and tell the story of the life of a farmer and his mail-order bride.
Genre: Rock: Country-Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Biscuit Rides Again
3:44 $0.99
2. Drag You Down
3:11 $0.99
3. Westbound Train
1:59 $0.99
4. Wonders of Nature
2:56 $0.99
5. Angel Fire Honeymoon
1:46 $0.99
6. Maple Sugar Morning
1:56 $0.99
7. Kickin' Around
1:12 $0.99
8. Gone to Me
2:06 $0.99
9. Gilded Cage Calypso
3:16 $0.99
10. Bitter Mirage
2:16 $0.99
11. Down the Road
3:06 $0.99
12. No Regrets
2:06 $0.99
13. Dead in Durango
3:42 $0.99
14. Sirius Solstice
2:08 $0.99
15. Downhill Sunset
4:15 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The Stragglyrs escape the present and head back to the early 1880s for a psychedelic country-rock musical horse opera about a mail-order bride from Charleston, S.C., who rides a train to join her farmer husband-to-be in New Mexico. Along the way, she meets a dark gambler who threatens to be the seemingly happy couple's undoing.

The sound is a unique blend of different styles and musical instruments. On Downhill Sunset, the Stragglyrs have 4 members who swap lead vocal responsibilities and give the listener a wide range of styles. They are:

Jim Braly - Guitar, vocals
Bill Mishler - Drums, vocals
Ken Long - Guitar, vocals
Chris Purdum - Bass, vocals, piano, ocarina, trombone

The Stragglyrs started in 2000 as a pick-up band playing just for fun, writing their own songs about what they want to talk about. As fan Wade Thomas puts it: "The Stragglyrs are on their own trip, with their own statements, and exploring their own spaces along with their own family, friends and fans -- a real throwback to what music was about prior to the era of mass marketing of artificial stardom."



to write a review

Wade L. Thomas

Saddle up to ride through a great musical story in the spirit of the old west.
Perhaps the Stragglyrs deserve an award as "the sentinels of good sense in musical creativity" with the release of "Downhill Sunset." Summarizing the rich imagery and clever musical contours of this project is a challenge, but here goes.

The Stragglyrs open "Downhill Sunset" with lead guitarist Ken Long's tribute to Sea Biscuit. The initial vision of a "horse opera" propels the four-member band back into the past to a time of mail-order brides, steam locomotives, dapper gamblers, and swift justice. A frontier epic unfolds with an isolated farmer yearning for marriage as the finishing complement to crops and horses, transitioning on Bill Mishler and Chris Purdum's composition "Drag You Down." (This tune will keep replaying in your head whether you like it or not.)

The farmer answers an advertisement for a mail-order bride (the "Queen"). Mishler, guitarist Jim Braly, and former band member Colin Seymour are credited with "Westbound Train," which recounts the bride's passage by train where she is introduced to the gambler Jack Chance. The gambler's mystique and wealth eventually prove to be more than a flirtatious acquaintance. Nonetheless, she must honor the promise to the farmer. Yet, the magnetism of the gambler and his way of life fan a smoldering fire of passion.

"Wonders of Nature" presents some of the best instrumental and vocal lavishness of the band to date. Bill Mishler's flair for lyrics commands serious respect in this composition. The Mishler-Braly composition features a duet by Bill Mishler and Chris Purdum with guest vocals by Kathy Purdum. Guest performer Alan Purdum's recorder passages supply the right amount of sweetening. Mishler rolls on percussion, asserting ownership while blending dependably with the emblematic teamwork of the band. Jim Braly's "Angel Fire Honeymoon" into "Maple Sugar Morning" bridges this very distinctive piece. "Maple Sugar Morning" was previously released as an instrumental, but is now poetically scenic with its premise: The farmer's life becomes sweeter than a maple sugar morning, but he is nagged by doubts. His fears are realized in the honky-tonk, country blues distress of "Gone to Me." The farmer's newfound love rejects the toil of the farm in favor of the allure and excitement of the city--and the attentions of Jack Chance. Alas, maple sugar love is a tearful "Bitter Mirage."

The farmer journeys to the city in painful desperation to rescue his bride from iniquity. Jim Braly's maudlin growl on "Take Me on Down the Road" presages destiny as the farmer's despair and loss smother reason, prompting a confrontation with the gambler. Mishler and Braly score an instant classic with the story and melody of "Dead in Durango." This remarkable lyrical ballad chronicles a fatal shootout and the climax of the story. The farmer is buried in a western-style didactic describing the unfettered indulgence of the Jack and Queen. Closure finds the Stragglyrs returning to the present in this musical saga with the allegorical "Downhill Sunset."

"Downhill Sunset" is an incredible piece of concept work on the part of a group that began as a pickup band. The Stragglyrs shun gratuitous instrumental flourishes in favor of deliberate musical simplicity superimposed upon an elaborate, imaginary story. In a world of music dominated by instant satisfaction and guttural barking, its brainy intricacy and historical setting could likely be lost on the ordinary, one-time listener. But for the relaxed and motivated, producer Bill Mishler's prairie schooner carries you from the cd's phenomenal cover artwork of Brant Clinard and Irene O. Jew into an excursion through the old west with the vividness of an old western against the backdrop of a "Downhill Sunset."