Since Truckstop Honeymoon’s Mike and Katie West have always toured with their brood in tow, it only made sense to have Sadie, Vega, Julian and Esther guest here by singing and playing violin, guitar, ukulele and washboard on select tracks. As charming as that sounds, this isn’t a children’s record, though it does address the hustle and bustle of every day family life.
There are no laugh-out-loud crazy zingers like “Accidentally” and “She Wants to Be French,” either, but funny lines are still to be had—like “Back in Kansas, squirrels in the attic are the only sounds that comfort me” (“Baja”). But what’s appealing about these 16 songs is the varying complexity of the content, which ranges from surface-level simple—such as “L.P.”—to the eloquently written, metaphor-rich “Montague Street.” But even when the subject appears to be simple, Truckstop usually manages to inject quick, editorial commentary, such as Spotify’s paltry payout rates, building walls and closing ports of entry. Inspired by the massive cuts in education, the basic message of “The Governor of Kansas” is that love and people will still prevail.
But what makes this real is Truckstop’s brutal honesty about their lives. On “Don’t Go Crying” and “Do You Really Have to Ask,” you feel like you just walked in on some sort of therapeutic dialogue. Still, at the end of the day, they’re grateful for what they have, which Katie sincerely expresses on “Thank You.” If you haven’t gotten a Christmas card from Truckstop Honeymoon lately, don’t worry, it’s all right here.