The Texas Gentleman are well-known for being backing musicians to a wealth of artists from all genres of music. The 6 piece – Beau Bedford, Nik Lee, Daniel Creamer, Matt McDonald, Scott Lee, and Ryan Ake – have never recorded and released their own music until now. The recently released TX Jelly, which features a jar of jelly (or marmalade as we Brits call it) on the cover, showcases a group of musicians having a great time in the studio.
If I were to describe TX Jelly as loose, I’d probably be making a huge understatement. You get the impression that there was no particular plan when the band went into the studio as the end result if a real mish-mash of genres and a hotch-potch of things that work and things that don’t. The Texas Gentlemen have clearly listened to a lot of prog rock in their time and the opening track of TX Jelly, Habbie Doobie, is a fun mostly instrumental track that sees the band jamming out together.
Pain is the first time we properly hear vocals from the band and it’s a little bit like if Elton John jammed with Pink Floyd in the 70s. It’s a bit wacky, very weird but also quite wonderful. If you like your music to be cohesive then you’re probably not going to love TX Jelly as it’s all over the place. One minute your rocking out the next there’s a wistful traditional Country ballad like Dream Along blaring out of your speakers.
Paul Cauthen provides the vocals on Gone and My Way, both of which sound like they could have been recorded by Elvis Presley. They embrace a 50s rock’n’roll feel and they are two of the best songs included on this release. Elsewhere Superstition takes you back to the 60s with hazy melodies and dreamy harmonies, the title track is a drum-filled jam session, and Bondurant Women draws inspiration from 70s pop/rock.
The album comes to an end with Trading Paint, the album’s most gentle moment, with Dan Dyer on lyrics. It’s a simple Country song at heart with occasional harmonies bringing things to a pleasant close.
TX Jelly is definitely an interesting record but whether or not it works as a cohesive collection of songs will depend on how loose and experimental you like your music. For me there’s a lot of good here but there’s also plenty I could skip through on future listens. It’s certainly one of the most sonically varied releases I’ve heard in 2017 but a little more focus could have made it better.
Track list: 1. Habbie Doobie 2. Pain 3. Bondurant Women 4. Dream Along 5. Gone 6. My Way 7. Superstition 8. TX Jelly 9. Pretty Flowers 10. Shakin’ All Over 11. Trading Paint Record label: New West Records Release date: 15th September 2017