Outlaw Country

B.R. Lively: “Hope in My Heart”

With the oppressive heat and an especially tantalizing 24-hour news cycle, it’s worth taking a moment or two to just breath. So while neither we nor the artists we curate can claim to be mindfulness experts, we feel like today’s feature is pretty fitting for anyone in need of a mindset shift. It comes courtesy of Austin multi-instrumentalist-singer-songwriter Bryan Richard Blaylock (better known as B.R. Lively), whose well…livelihood….lies roughly within the boundaries of folk, outlaw country, southern R&B, and jazz. Lyrically Lively derives a lot from literature, but rest assured, his tunes aren’t so high brow that they’re inaccessible to the layperson. Lively first crested over the horizon with his debut Into the Blue in 2017, and tracked a companion piece fast in the aftermath. Well after nearly a half decade of solo touring across the US, Lively’s back in Austin and eager to unleash those counterpart recordings from their hard drive confines. Where Lively considers Into the Blue as an introspective, melancholic inhale, his sophomore follow-up People completes the process of process aural respiration with an exhalation of poignant wisdom, emotional growth, and realistic optimism; a Yin to Into the Blue‘s Yang. Lively takes the stage next Tuesday at High Noon for the People release show alongside Lola and returns the following Tuesday with Brothers of Mercy. But with scant chances of rain between now and then, let’s leverage those aspirations with “Hope in My Heart”. Co-produced by Band of Heathens collaborator Gordy Quist, mixed by Robert Ellis/Khruangbin engineer Steve Christensen, and arranged by string-and-horn visionary Thomas Avery, the sense of space, level of polish, and discipline of performance on this waltz are all nothing short of jaw-dropping. And as auspicious as it is awe-inspiring, “Hope in My Heart” will reward you with the essence of its title whenever the bleakness has got you feeling meek.

Alex Williams: “Old Before My Time”

Here in the U.S., we’ve enjoyed nearly a century of transcontinental and interstate routes, thanks to our highway system. Because of its introduction amidst advents in recording technology and decades-long development alongside advances in songwriting, tunes about cruising have taken American artists pretty far. And everyone’s got their favorite so no need to list ’em all out here. That said, the point of a good road playlist is to pack too many tracks in so you don’t have repeats, right? With that in mind, today we introduce you to a must-have piece of musical migration, courtesy of Indianapolis singer-guitarist Alex Williams.

With the release of his 2017 Nashville-produced debut Better Than Myself, Williams seemed like a shoe-in successor to the Outlaw Country throne. But the following five years of touring and temptation eventually influenced Williams to shy away from a bandana-bound sense of recklessness and write a new batch of horizon-affixed, road-weary personal reflections. The result, Waging Peace, is set for release on October 21st in the thick of a national tour. This dozen-track trek evokes everyone from Jerry Reed, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Allman Brothers all the way to Texas treasures like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, boldly opening up a throttle of cross-genre twang. So buckle up for Waging Peace‘s release Friday after next, and rev up for a practice run right now with the LP’s latest Haggard-esque trailblazer, “Old Before My Time”!

Texas Standard: May 25, 2018

The Lt. Governor mocked after the Santa Fe shooting for claiming Texas schools have too many entrances and exits, but is he right? After the Sandy Hook school massacre, the old building was raised and a new more secure building built in its place. One of the experts involved says Texas schools should reconsider their architecture too. And another year another season of glitches for Texas’ standardized public school testing scheme. Now penalties for the company behind the tests, and a reprieve for many students who didn’t pass, we’ll take a look. All that and more today on the Texas Standard: