Out of Scotland, the Rock band Travis has a history that dates back 30 years now. Early on with roots in another project called Glass Onion, soon finding themselves as Travis, they made their debut in 1997 with Good Feelings. A strong first impression, they quickly broke big into the mainstream with 1999’s The Man Who, and as they say, the rest is history. A unique mix of Alternative Rock and Britpop, Travis has remained a steady force, and now return on Friday, October 9, 2020 with what could be their most compelling auditory gem to date.
An album simply entitled 10 Songs, as advertised, it contented 10 tracks. Their follow up to 2016’s Everything at Once, it is their 9th overall studio album, is their first on BMG, and marks the return of Vocalist Fran Healy as lead songwriter; a title he has not had since 2003’s 12 Memories. Joining Healy are the usual suspects coming in the form of longtime bandmates Dougie Payne on bass, Andy Dunlop on lead guitar/banjo, and Neil Primrose on drums. Touching on a variety styles – Pop, Rock, Country, Folk – together the guys have created 10 new songs that melt will quickly melt your heart.
Allowing the songwriting to be the central focus, each track not only tells a story, but one that is wrapped around beautiful piano arrangements, delicate guitars, and some really striking harmonized vocals. Additionally, the lead vocals of Healy is so clear and filled with emotion, it is difficult to ignore the context of the words. In fact, each song plays an intricate part to the album, from the opening of “Waving at the Window,” filled with dreamy, soft tones, to the album closer “No Love Lost,” which comes in gently, but possesses unfiltered honesty.
In between the beginning and end, there are also plenty of other highlights to go around. For example, “The Only Thing” possesses a classic Soft Rock sensation with a hint of Country, all while surprising you midway as Healy joins The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs for a duet. And while the bulk of the album is mellowly smooth, “Valentine” comes in a bit heavier, plus “A Ghost” blasts into a waltz-like, upbeat rhythm which is impossibly catchy. This is while other songs such as the Britpop drenched “A Million Hearts,” folky “All Fall Down,” and seductive “Kissing In The Wind” keep you focused on the intricacy of Travis’ attention to instrumental detail.
Simply put, the thoughtfulness exhibited by Travis on 10 songs is astounding. Each of the tracks have fantastic arrangements, rhythms that are ear-catching, and a softness that is quite inviting. Complimented by lyrics about love, life, or both intertwined, sit back, relax, and let your mind wander with Travis. Taking your thoughts away from everyday worries, Cryptic Rock gives 10 Songs 5 out of 5 stars.