This is most of what we might reasonably expect and welcome from a post-Richmond Fontaine Richmond Fontaine, the band having disbanded but briefly reconvened for this instrumental, so that is what is missing: the lyrics and the singing.
Otherwise it is a collection of mainly and most welcoming pedal steel plaintive – the lyricism of melody describing as best it can in a wordless soundscape the landscape of Willy Vlautin’s latest novel. So, titles like Horace Hopper and Victor Gets on the Bus tell us it is a soundtrack, the first delivered in the pedal steel and the second in a fleeting acoustic guitar calm. Third Dream of the City and the City Itself is, as title, a piece of language that is signature Vlautin, then its opening melody is all Country hoedown until the song breaks into the most beautiful other signature, a lamenting minor key descend with, yes, pedal steel. Fourth Living Where You’re Not Wanted is again initially the language of Vlautin’s embrace of people’s alienation and its prompt to escape in search of something better – rarely achieved though there will be moments of human kindness experienced along the way – and this is embraced in instrumental performance by a cowboy camp-fire harmonica lead, with more like this later on, for example penultimate We Are Cattlemen [aptly] that segues prettily if hauntingly into closer Back of the Pickup.
Can’t wait to read the novel.