It’s easy to gush about the new Ben Kweller album Changing Horses, in which he creates a country sound that throws back to the sounds of Hank, Willie and the Hag. But it could be argued that although the album sounds great, it’s decidedly and sonically stuck in the past. Maybe if Hank started his career in 2005, he wouldn’t have that same honky tonk and heartbreak brand on each song.
It’s likely that if a country legend of the ’50s started recording in this decade, the sound would have a bit more Jeff Tweedy in it. That’s where Ronnie Fauss‘ New Songs For The Old Frontier comes in. Fauss, a Dallas boy, is one of the best Americana singer/songwriters in the game.
Living in Chicago, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that alt-country starts and ends with Bloodshot Records. Fauss disproves that with his slightly grizzled voice and excellent songwriting. Sure, he still tackles heartbreak and drinking like the best of them did back in the day, but he does it as any Texas troubadour should while he approaches the 2010s.
Ronnie Fauss – “The Night Before The War” (from New Songs For The Old Frontier)
Ronnie was kind enough to send along a list of five songs he’s been enjoying.
1) Okkervil River – “The Velocity Of Saul At The Time Of His Conversion” (from Down The River Of Golden Dreams) – “Will Sheff has a way of being super-literate without being overly-literate, and he grounds his poetry in things that are real – ‘I wonder with my head in my hands, should I call my wife.'”
2) Eels – “Railroad Man” (from Blinking Lights And Other Revelations) – “Mark Oliver Everett has many musical forms, but he’s at his best with the introspective folk ballad, like this one or ‘3 Speed’ or ‘Manchester Girl.'”
3) Bill Mallonee – “Flowers” (from Permafrost) – “Criminally under-appreciated, from his earlier work with Vigilantes Of Love to his more recent solo stuff. Quintessential Americana music combined with brilliant lyrics.”
(Stream in full here)
4) Doug Burr – “Graniteville” (from On Promenade) – “Local songwriting treasure from here in North Texas. Understated in every way, this song tells the story of the train disaster in Graniteville, South Carolina.”
5) Collin Herring – “Aphorism” (from The Other Side Of Kindness) – “Another North Texas guy, I listened to this song non-stop when I discovered it a few months ago, and still turn to it regularly. Grounded, confessional lyrics and vintage alt-country sound.”
(Stream in full here)