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Charley Crockett – ‘The Man From Waco’ review

The rising star and Texan country artist, Charley Crockett, wrote, or co-wrote most of the 14 tracks on ‘The Man From Waco’, released via Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers, his 11th studio album since 2015.

In addition to joining Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival and amassing millions of streams worldwide, Crockett has explored a rich music history encompassing country, blues, funk and soul alongside living in New Orleans, New York City, Paris France, Spain and Morocco.  

An instrumental theme, ‘The Man From Waco’, bookends the album (with the exception of an encore of a final song) the horns transporting you to the landscape of a western film set on a Texan/New Mexico border, where the hero saunters along to a stunning backdrop as the camera pans into his songwriting soul. 

Crockett’s honeyed bass voice draws you back to the bygone era of a land clear of digital distractions, making ‘The Man From Waco’ an album to pay attention to, especially for fans of traditional country music.  

There are some standout tracks on this breakthrough album, such as the mid-tempo ‘Just Like Honey’ which harkens to a Glen Campbell or Dr Hook sound, a steel guitar and kick drum enjoying a few minutes together, like on any classic 70s country song. 

A 70s horn joins in the traditional country on ‘Just Like A Clown’ bringing a funk rhythm out to play while the glorious groove continues on ‘Black Sedan’, with a piano joining the Plains party, drawing on a rich musical geography to accompany Crocket’s storytelling. The Blues joins ‘Tom Turkey’ taking us to a 1920s American sound and features lyrics from Bob Dylan’s ‘Billy 4’. 

‘Trinity River’ takes us on four and a half minutes of beautiful horn-based musical meandering before two more-familiar-lyric based songs call for your attention. The narrator of ‘Horse Thief Mesa’ who “wasn’t always seeking vengeance…once lived in a peaceful valley” takes a haunting hold of you, thanks to its Highway Men sound of guitars and backing vocals.  

Then ‘July Jackson’ presents all the right kind of wronged and murdering storytelling in the lyrics, making it one of the strongest tracks on the album. Think Martha Devine from a third person, non-parental point of view.

Finally, ‘Name On A Billboard’, is an uplifting, up-tempo song with a happy dance across a piano offers a cracking hook “think I’ll buy some things I can’t afford/hey look, my name’s on a billboard”; Crockett acknowledging the empty promises of the fame side of a musician’s life while he admits, “Everybody was telling me: ‘go right, go right, go right. I went left. I had to hold on to what has gotten me this far.”

Charley Crocket’s pin-sharp ear for music draws a natural comparison to Bruno Mars, with their gift for absorbing and re-presenting different genres of music. 

‘The Man From Waco’, produced by Bruce Robinson at his studio, The Bunker, in Texas, combines 70s country with 70s funk and 70s soul and spins its own path, for Crockett (sometimes known as his alter ego Lil G. L.) and it’s little surprise he won Emerging Act of the Year at the 2021 Americana Honors & Awards. 

One of the most prolific artists in country/Americana music Charley Crockett will tour the UK in October and November. 

Track listing: 1. The Man From Waco Theme 2. Cowboy Candy 3. Time Of The Cottonwood Trees 4. Just Like Honey 5. I’m Just A Clown 6. Black Sedan 7. The Man From Waco 8. Trinity River 9. Tom Turkey* 10. Odessa 11. All The Way From Atlanta 12. Horse Thief Mesa 13. July Jackson 14. The Man From Waco Theme 15. Name On A Billboard Release Date: September 9th Record Label: Son of Davy / Thirty Tigers Buy ‘The Man From Waco’ now

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