TRAPPER SCHOEPP – Siren Songs (Grand Phony)

Siren SongsTrapper Schoepp releases Siren Songs on April 21st. Schoepp said of it, “What’s most important to me is to be a link in the chain of folk singers before and after my time”. To mention a couple: the album was recorded at Cash Cabin, originally Johnny Cash’s sanctuary to recharge, later his working studio. It’s also the location for the picture on the album cover. Secondly, of hearing Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’, Schoepp said, “That first A minor chord got my blood pumping. Hearing the conviction in his voice as he told the story of an innocent man wrongly accused was life-changing”. The track set him on the road of songwriting and in 2018 Schoepp wrote and developed an unfinished Bob Dylan song from 1961, ‘On, Wisconsin’. He has thereby become the youngest person to share a co-writing credit with Dylan.

Having thus nodded to the inspiration of the past, I’d add – positively – that I don’t hear in Siren Songs an over-developed leaning on the style of either of these two greats. If Schoepp nods to anyone on this album, it’s to the Irish tradition, of The Chieftains and The Clancy Brothers and, in particular, to the rolling style of Paul Brady’s ‘Arthur McBride’. Hearing the latter led Schoepp to re-tune to Open D and learn the relevant new chords shapes. With the addition of a band, this new tuning (“It was a complete revelation”) and the speed of cutting fourteen songs in a week, there is a live energy to the tracks, twelve songs in the final cut, which makes Siren Songs a highly melodic and listenable collection.

Half a dozen of the tracks on the album fairly romp along, particularly the opening ‘Cliffs Of Dover’ below. There are touches of the modern Scottish sound in places, some grand harmonica playing, a couple of songs where the acoustic guitar is to the fore, and a splendid blues track before the album comes to a close with the piano number, ‘In Returning’.

I’ve been cautious about listing the tracks and commenting on them individually as I suspect there’s a discrepancy between the titles on the cover of the review copy and the order of the tracks on the CD. That aside, Siren Songs has a vibrancy to its twelve tracks and is well worth a listen. Trapper Schoepp is currently on tour in the USA.

Mike Wistow

 Artist’s website:

‘Cliffs Of Dover’ – official video: