When my copy of Badlands arrived, it stayed in the CD player in the car for over two weeks, playing over and over again. Nearly every track is on my all-night music list (I never sleep without music playing. I’ve heard some people do. Seems odd to me.)
Instrumentals are hard to write. I’ve written over 100 songs, but only 5 or 6 instrumentals. The emotional impact and quick familiarity usually made by the lyrics have to be carried entirely by music. It’s harder than you think.
Tingstad pulls it off on every single original track on the album. (One track is a cover of Roy Orbison’s Crying which is not by favorite Orbison song, nor my favorite track on Badlands.)
Quiet ballads, lullabies, riding music, it’s all here. Nothing too edgy, but no elevator music either.
The title track is the closest thing to edgy: plenty of electric guitar (the lead is a slippery shimmering slide I can’t stop humming) and a driving rhythm section, topped with a delicate fiddle that pops in just where it’s needed. Slap of leather, smell of sage, dust and grit and heat.
Right now you can get Eric’s Badlands along with the older Southwest for only $20 total. It’s a steal. If you like guitars or Americana or ambient music while you’re thinking or driving or writing, this is some of the best you can get.
It was 6 years from Southwest to Badlands. I sure hope Eric doesn’t keep us waiting another 5 years for a third album of his Americana instrumentals.