Album Review of 3 Pairs of Boots: Long Rider
Fans of old-school, Patsy Cline-flavor country music are likely to dig 3 Pairs of Boots. Long Rider is a varied, versatile collection of swinging, swooping, Americana mixed with old-school country. It took me a while to place who Laura Arias’ pouty-smooth crooning reminded me of. This one will be “inside baseball” for Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog readers, a mix of a pair of great vocalists I wish you all knew about. Primarily, Laura’s vocals sound like a less edgy version of Angie and the Deserters’ Angie Bruyere but with occasional ventures into the sweet super-highness I associate with Blog favorite Trysette. I realize I’m trying a little too hard there – the band’s bio suggests she’s a blend of Cyndi Lauper and Shania Twain, and that probably paints a better picture for a broader swath of potential listeners.
“Boots” bandmate, the other half of the duo, Laura’s husband Andrew Stern helps provide a great musical backdrop to Arias’ vocals, at times nearly rockabilly, sometimes with a hint of psychedelic rock (just a hint), often with some good ol’ Opry-style twanging. It’s a testament to the duo’s versatility that they’re able to serve up such a variety of tunes in a cohesive package on Long Rider.
I have several favorites in this collection. Disc-opener “Quittin’ Time,” in fact, is the relatively old-fashioned, smooth, soft-paced crooner that inspired my Patsy Cline comparison. “Devil Road” somehow comes off as a rollicking number, before closer examination reveals a much more leisurely pace than it seems. Some extra inserted beats add to the energy and rhythm of the song without actually speeding the pace.
Now, there is a bit more pace on the next song, a quick-stepping country dancehall number with some lively picking, “Take a Step,” which actually reveals the secret of the band’s name: “Take a step into the unknown, and never look back. I’ve got my 3 pairs of boots. That’s all I need.”
The lively cheerfulness continues on “Everywhere I Go,” before “I Am the Map” slows things down with lyrics like “I am the map, but I am not the road”.
Laura’s voice is at her most Trysette-ish on “Summer of Love,” a very Age of Aquarius-vibed tune, especially considering its steady, firm, relatively traditionally country music beat.
“My Best Friend” is essentially a love song about a friendship that stands the test of time… a guitar. Yeah, it’s a fun song with clever lyrics.
Finally, “Roller Coaster” opens with and repeats a hook uncannily similar to “Here Comes the Sun.” (I keep expecting to hear, at some point, “do do do…”) The energy on “Roller Coaster” is cheerful with a vocal edge that keeps teetering on poignant and pulling back. It’s a cool vibe with which to end this collection of songs that explores the broad range of dependably strong Americana (and Americana-adjacent) duo 3 Pairs of Boots.
In the end, Long Rider is a fun, moderately-paced romp with enough performing flourishes and songwriting surprises sprinkled throughout to make the album a sneaky favorite.
Scroll down the main page of the 3 Pairs of Boots website to the “Tour Dates” section to see upcoming performances.