Kyle Nix – Lightning on the Mountain and Other Short Stories

Going solo after being in a massively successful band is one of the more difficult propositions in the music business. It has rarely been done with any measure of equal success. Projects from titans like Lennon, McCartney, Henley and Frey jump to mind. Petty delivered Full Moon Fever as a solo project, but it was merely a de facto Heartbreakers album. The most notable example from the Texas/Red Dirt scene is Johnny Chops of the Randy Rogers Band releasing a handful of fantastic rock-infused jams that have built a solid solo brand. Cody Canada’s post-Ragweed deserves consideration in this conversation

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John Baumann – Country Shade

John Baumann is one of the finest young songwriters plying his trade in Texas and beyond at the moment.  He’s developed a knack for hard-scrabble emotional lyrics paired with sneakily infectious lyrics.  He’s as adept at drawing from the well of personal experience as he is observation and imagination. That’s not an easy trick for any songwriter to learn, yet Baumann mastered it all before age 30.  He’s experienced a lot of love and loss in his young life, including the uber impactful experience of unexpectedly losing his father as a young man.  This loss informs even the brightest moments

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Wade Bowen/Randy Rogers – Hold My Beer Volume 2

The Hold My Beer Volume 1 release from Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers dropped five years ago. It was a rallying testament to the type of classic country music that they grew up on. Lloyd Maines punched all the right buttons and the songs selected made a statement from the opening single “Standards” to the infectious radio single worthiness of “Ladybug”. Five years later we now have Volume 2. Bowen and Rogers reconvened the same cast of characters and upped the fun quotient. This is the country music of the late 70s and 80s that evokes the best of Moe

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American Aquarium – Lamentations

BJ Barham has carved out a spot among modern songwriters with his a signature brand of hardscrabble songs that evoke the best parts of Springsteen and Isbell, but with enough Carolina grit to make them completely his own. As Barham’s band has grown and undergone changes, so has his recorded output. The changes are subtle and smooth. On the Aquarium’s latest release, Lamentations, producer Shooter Jennings works to smooth out the rough edges where necessary, yet also amplify them when mandatory. Barham’s not afraid to tackle any subject. Politics, addiction, abuse, desperation, elation, parenthood, economics. It’s all here. American Aquarium’s

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James Steinle – What I Came Here For

In my recap of Mile 0 Fest 2020, I remarked that James Steinle’s style falls somewhere around if John Prine maintained a residency at the Broken Spoke and worked at the Mean Eyed Cat in his off time.  That’s the vibe you’ll find on his sophomore effort, What I Came Here For.  Building on where he left off with 2018’s South Texas Homecoming, Steinle mines familiar musical terrain with sophisticated and witty lyrical observations.  This is observant honky-tonk.  Thinking man’s country music.  Steel guitars support the stories of seedy characters, seedier settings and the triumphs and tragedies of modern life on the south side. “Black and White

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