For June's edition of What I'm Listening To, I've selected a few new releases from Aaron Watson (3) and Tanya Tucker (1). Texas sure is putting out great music, but of course, we'd expect nothing less.
Aaron Watson recently released his epic new record, Red Bandana. The album as a whole is super interesting and finds Aaron stretching his artistry and experimenting a bit, and it really paid off. There are a few songs that could have been left off to lighten the 20 song load, but overall, it's a great record, one that insures Watson's place among the modern day Cowboy poets (think Chris LeDoux).
I've picked my 3 favorites, which are featured below:
"Ghost of Guy Clark" kicks off the record and acts as a sense of inspiration for the overall record and a description of Watson's artistic creed. A poetic recitation that pays tribute to the legendary Guy Clark, without ever directly doing so. It's a song written to Aaron by Aaron, reminding him to hold on to his honesty and integrity, to follow and write from his heart, and to learn from those that came before him.
While "Ghost of Guy Clark" kicks off the record with a statement of Aaron's artistic intentions, "El Comienzo del Viaje" is the song that begins the trip this record takes you on. * If you know Spanish, you'll see what I did there ;) *
The first three songs on this record flow beautifully, melodically speaking, into one another. "El Comienzo del Viaje" is an excellent little instrumental number that nods to Watson's West Texas roots with its South of the Boarder flavor. Picture Watson readying himself for the fight of his life, ready to stand against the challengers as this song plays as the backing theme. The song lets the listener know up front that this isn't going to be your ordinary album.
Fun little fact: This instrumental song inspired a chapter in the book I am currently writing. ;)
"El Comienzo del Viaje" flows perfectly into the third track, "Dark Horse". So much so, that at first listen I actually thought it was all one song and had to go back and check. "Dark Horse" is a driving anthem that comes out of the gate running full speed. I believe this will be a defining song in Watson's career, as it tells his story all the while encouraging other "dark horses" and "underdogs" to keep going, keep dreaming, and to do what they say you could never do. It's Watson's "Here I am, see what I've accomplished? And all without bowing to the machine" moment.
This song is what an anthem is suppose to sound like. Watson pulls it off perfectly without falling into the trap of sounding cheesy or pandering. My favorite stanzas are "Yeah this one goes out to the dreamer always out there aiming high/ Don't you let 'em clip your wings or say that you can't fly/ This one goes out to the loser losing time and time again/ And time again keeps on believing that someday they're gonna win," and "This one goes out to the girls: go show the world you can/ Never let 'em hold you back just because you aren't a man/ This one goes out to those underdogs who aren't afraid to bite/ Change the game, break the chain, get off that porch and fight," as they serve to inspire all, while the stanza, "I rode into town with a dream and a song/ But they told me that I just don't belong/ And the fable of a label that stomped on my heart/ Added fuel to the fire, added soul to my art/ So I went back home like all those outlaw boys/ Bought a van, got a band, making my brand of noise/ So I built with my hands my own destiny/ And I became what they said that I couldn't be," tells Aaron's own triumphant story. It's a must listen, one you'll put on repeat from the first listen on.
Tanya Tucker released a brand new single, "Wheels of Laredo", which serves as the introductory taste of her first studio album in 17 years. While I'm Livin' will be out August 23rd, and is co-produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings. Is anyone else excited?
"Wheels of Laredo" is a true Country and Western brokenhearted love ballad at its surface, but maybe a statement on the immigration controversy at the boarder when you dig deeper? Boasting Brandi Carlile as a co-writer, it isn't out of the question that this song carries a deeper message, though I have read no official statements saying it is. If you listen to the lyrics and the locations mentioned in the song closely they seem to paint a deeper story than just one of a broken heart. Guadalupe Market Square, which is mentioned in the second stanza, happens to be a hotbed in the current controversy. The song talks about a not-so-distant land, which is located across the Rio Grande.... You can do the math there. "Wheels of Laredo" seems to be a statement from someone who wants to help, but either can't as they're stuck in the corrupt system that doesn't know it's corrupt or because they don't really know how.
Either way, it's an interesting song regardless, and a true joy to hear Tanya's warm, gritty vocals coming through my speakers singing a new song.
I hope you enjoy this installment of "What I'm Listening To". Stay tuned this summer for some fun editions! July will have at least two editions called "Women of Country", and August will be Shania Twain month, in honor of her birthday. ;)
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She works as a freelance writer and editor, as well as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.