Texas Paintbrush –  Ranzel X Kendrick (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

71P-FxJAi0L._SY355_This first outing in a planned trilogy of albums under the arching title of the “Texas Series” is a masterfully  understated slice of rootsy, country acoustica or as the artist himself refers to it Freestyle folk. The songs found within has a wonderfully DIY quality, in part due to the sparse nature of the music, which in turn creates a finish akin to a gentle jam session or a well delivered busk. And just to qualify that statement, that is in no way a comment on production, more on the deft editing and spatial awareness of the song writing in the first place.

And if  your impression of Texas music is defined by Southern Rock’s face melting guitar work or campfire cowboy songs, remember that this is the state where the conservative country set united with the liberal hippies in the 70’s to embrace the cosmic country scene as the likes of Nelson, Sahm and Jennings grew their hair and dropped out. There are moments when Texas Paintbrush feels like the musical progeny of those times, a sort of blend of Bob Dylan and outlaw country or reminiscent of Townes Van Zante’s alt-country groove. Though of course that was years before we needed such terms to pigeon-hole things.

I Don’t Want to Go Home throws some deft and delicate electric guitar motifs around whilst Canyon Hymn would be just as at home in a back room folk club in rural Oxfordshire on the other side of the Atlantic. Where The Wind Blows is a funky little number that seems to lilt along like the tumble weeds it evokes and Misty is a suitably soulful ballad.

Texas Paintbrush is one of those albums where the music seems at most to evoke rather than force ideas, where it is used to create fragile bubbles around emotions and atmospheres, rather than feel the need to fill in all the gaps. And as the first part of a triptych of counter-culture inspired, alternative roots music, I can’t wait to see what the next instalment brings.


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