By Susie Glaze

Ernest Troost o loveSomewhere on the road between 2009’s Resurrection Blues and 2014’s O Love, Ernest Troost stumbled on something that slowed him in his tracks: a great live concert in early 2011 and its great live recording from McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California, ostensibly the “ground zero” location of Troost’s “epiphany” (as he calls it) and subsequent evolution to become the remarkable and award-winning folk/blues songwriter that he is today.

That live concert CD, Ernest Troost – Live at McCabe’s” (reviewed by this writer in July 2011 on FolkWorks here) was the fertile beginning of life for a few of the songs on this wonderful new studio release, O Love. The title track, along with songs Close,Bitter Wind, The Last Lullaby and Storm Comin’ were all familiar to me as I had enjoyed them so much in their live incarnations. These songs along with the newer ones have made another fascinating step on his road of epiphanies. They grow and evolve into a rowdy and, in some cases, raucous mood. He orchestrates many of his songs with electric guitars, percussion, pump organ and electric bass, producing a full-band sound that brings new and exciting epiphanies to the listener as well.

For fans of Troost’s, you’ll be glad to know that O Love satisfies on many levels including the truly beautiful and finely crafted guitar work that we’ve all come to know and love. We are now engaged into a wider field of sound, with the darker and lusher sounds underscoring the deep emotions and warnings always inherent in Troost’s writing. Also returning here is the beautiful and instinctive harmony singing from Nicole Gordon, deeply groovy bass work from Mark “Pocket” Goldberg and fine percussion from Debra Dobkin. However, the addition of this fully “orchestral” sound (“Troost goes electric!”) is an eye-opening thrill, and you can see a strong branch growing out from the purely acoustic sound into a rock and roll story song classic collection.

I asked Ernest how the album came about, what his process was like and more about the theme:

“From a conceptual standpoint, the album is a collection of love songs, viewing love from different angles. For instance, The Old Screen Door is a father/son relationship gone very bad, and O Love is my attempt to have each verse look at love from a new angle and still somehow hold together as a unified song. I also wanted the arrangements to enhance the songs, which is why the production varies throughout the album, with some songs having a full band arrangement and others sticking to a more intimate folk approach.”

Troost goes on to credit his producer, Dennis Reed, with many of the ideas for new arrangements, instruments and musical treatments that we hear on this album.

I’ve always found it so interesting that Troost, being an award-winning television and film composer, can yield up the rich and complex lyric writing and story songs that he does. Once again, from Ernest:

“I can remember as a kid my father reading aloud Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Poe’s Raven to the family. I was too young to really appreciate those poems, but I think their musicality and dark romantic nature had a powerful effect on me. It’s storytelling that really excites me. I call my songwriting style cinematic folk--I try to create a vivid world of images and music that envelops the listener.”

Yep, dark romantic nature it is, and you find yourself going there with him to hear the adventure in each and every tune. Even the tender, truly sweet expressions of steadfast happiness are original adventures into his romantic view, all addressing instances of love in all its myriad of manifestations.

In a perfectly stated review, Blues Revue Magazine wrote:

"Troost's style and subject matter recall Dylan, Dave Alvin, and (especially for his concentration on life's darker side) Richard Thompson--enviable company indeed. Such comparisons are not lightly made: Every song here is a keeper…His intricately-wrought blues-folk songs reflect this strong melody craftsmanship and matches it with a rare ability to write poetry that sounds like everyday language. Harmonic complexity is sprinkled among the simplicity, though, here and there, just as suggestions of what's coming. You might be listening to a sweet song in a major key when a minor interlude will slide in and out, almost without your notice, and you think "hmm – is there something else here?" His subjects lend edginess to his work, but it's a roughness that's been burnished smooth by a compassion you can hear in his voice…In a way, these are all morality tales: tragedies, lost love, yearning for closeness and for understanding.”

Ernest Troost - Live at McCabe's - Close

Here are the tracks ~ with selected quoted lyrics. Ernest Troost is a real master of lyric writing here, as he finds truths that we all understand in their seeming simplicity but in their deeper reality reflect the complexity inherent in loving and looking for connection.

Old Screen Door

Pray Real Hard

O Love


You give me love so I can breathe

You give me love big enough to hold my dreams

And if I laid out all the things that you give me

Well, they’d stretch from coast to coast

But in the end it’s the love I love the most

And all that room you give me that makes us close

Harlan County Boys

The Last to Leave

Weary Traveler

I’ll Be Home Soon

Life is a mystery, I seen it on a sign

You can stare into infinity and get lost in time

Ain’t no clues in the western sky

The stars blink and blush, but don’t reply

O baby, I’m gonna be home soon

Flat horizon, loneliest I seen

There’s an old scrappy moon, and I’m somewhere in between

Drivin’ hard I can make good time

By morning’s light I’ll cross the county line

O baby, I’m gonna be home soon

Storm Comin’

Bitter Wind

Oh, oh, it’s a bitter wind that blows

It’s a bitter wind that blows you back my way

All the miles in between now and used to be

Aren’t enough to shield me from this cold

All the guilt on my shoes, all the time I have not used

All the time I have not used just slipped away

And the scheming and the tears

Come howlin’ back through the years

They come howlin’ back through the years

Like they’re here to stay

When It’s Gone

You say she walked right in, like original sin

And she held a spark beneath your heart

And now you’re in it deep, can’t get no sleep

Well, you can hold on tight or just let go

Well, if you rock this boat, button up your coat

'Cause the winds that blow, blow ill

And when the bleeding subsides and it’s cauterized

There’ll be nothin’ left inside you can feel

Only you can find the place in your heart

Where you know right from wrong

Never overlook the good you have for what might be

'Cause, brother, when it’s gone, it’s gone

All I Ever Wanted

The Last Lullaby

The golden light shines above

As we all gather here with love

And as our voices gently bend

You are on your way back home again

The leaves are thick upon the ground

Where you now walk without a sound

The birch tree bows as you go by

As we sing to you this last lullaby


Produced by Dennis Reed, Ernest Troost and Louise Hatem

All Music and Lyrics by Ernest Troost

Art direction by Steve Vance

Ernest Troost on guitars, bass, mandolin, pump organ, harmonica, percussion and all lead vocals. Joined by players and singers Nicole Gordon (harmony vocals), Ralph Humphrey (drums), Mark “Pocket” Goldberg (electric and standup bass), Dave Stone (upright bass), Charlie Bisharat (fiddle), Johnny Hawthorn (lap steel guitar), Steve Mugalian (drums and cajon), and Debra Dobkin (percussion).

Award-winning recording artist and critically-acclaimed powerhouse vocalist, Susie Glaze has been called “one of the most beautiful voices in bluegrass and folk music today.” (KPFK’s FolkScene) With her Hilonesome Band, her well-received newest release “White Swan” has been Number 1 on the Roots Music Report Top 50 internet folk chart. This and additional recordings can be found at www.susieglaze.com. "The best new band I've never heard of!" - Dan Crary