Tobias Berblinger - The Luckiest Hippie Alive

This album from the Portland-based Americana artist Tobias Berblinger has been around for a while; just reissued by the Ten Dollar Recording Company, The Luckiest Hippie Alive was initially released in 2018. Berblinger sings and plays acoustic guitar throughout but it is Jesse Cunningham's pedal steel work, a perfect old school country sound for crying in your beer, that shines on Side A's opening cut "My Boots Have Been Drinking," one of six cuts penned by Berblinger. The song, about screwing up a love relationship, is so sad that it's easy to miss the song's humorous element the first time through. "Blade of Grass" is another Berblinger original; it also has a sad overtone even though it bounces along to a twangy rhythm. Fans of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen will enjoy Berblinger's nearly note-perfect rendition of "Seeds and Stems (Again)," a cut that pokes a little fun at the stereotypical "my baby's gone" theme that features in so many country songs, also adding insult to injury since the poor guy who's suffering is also out of weed. Things turn around thematically on the title cut "The Luckiest Hippie Alive," another humor-filled cut where the song's subject not only avoids a drug arrest but gets conked on the head with a brick of Panama Red (a marijuana strain popular in the old days) that falls out of a window; he runs off with it and meets up with a bunch of beautiful skinny dipping women. By the time you flip the record to Side B you already know sadness is Berblinger's oeuvre but "Heartaches, Hard Times, Hard Drinking" is more forlorn than sad. "Crawl Back to You" is a touching cut, pretty much self-explanatory, performed by Berbllnger with only acoustic guitar accompaniment and background vocals from Marilyn May. The Luckiest Hippie Alive is a fine album from a talent that hopefully will not be overlooked again now that fans have a second chance with this reissue. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl.

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