Traveling Interstate 24 can lead you to many different places.
But if you venture through this main artery an hour east, then you could very easily stumble upon some South Cumberland soul from artist Trapper Haskins & The Bitter Swill.
A craftsman by trade, Haskins has constructed everything from cabinets to boats, so he understands the intrinsic details to life and carries them over to his songs.
On his new batch of work, he went back to the basics with songs of salvation and glory, which are some of the oldest not only in his songbook, but the American songbook, as well.
“Gospel addresses things that contemporary Christian doesn’t, like mortality, death and things that are frightening,” Haskins said.
“Contemporary addresses God more than life. It’s almost like the Mickey Mouse Club are cutting songs. There’s more fear and sadness in the old songs.”
Growing up in Memphis, Haskins was raised within the Presbyterian Church but has been a journeyman ever since, living throughout the Southeast and Maine.
It was during his limited pre-Katrina stay in New Orleans where he picked up some inspiration for his new project. While working in a furniture store and playing gigs on Royal Street, he gathered the material from none other than a man on the street.
“On My Way Back Home” opens with a stutter step of organ and a joyful noise with “Bound for Glory,” a song that dates back to 1939.
Other tracks include “Jesus on the Mainline” and a chilling version of “Up to Canaan Land”.
Haskins also give his take on “This Train,” a tune made famous by Woody Guthrie.
Throughout the five songs, Haskin’s chooses to close the EP with a self-written song called “I’m On My Way Back Home.”
“It’s one of my oldest songs. I wrote it in Maine and held on to it for awhile,” Haskins said.
By far one of the most personal cuts on the album, it addresses the subject of redemption and the idea of home and the toilsome road one can travel, literally and figuratively.
Central in concept, the album gets down to the heart of the matter with each song and can take you into fresh territory with new arrangements on familiar standards.
In the end, Haskins has constructed a soulful and spirited listen of themes that often weigh heavy in the mind and one that can be appreciated by both sinner and saint.
With two albums to his credit, Haskins will begin recording his next full-length album this month and has booked additional shows in the mid-state.