A staple in Texas has long been the voice of Kevin Fowler and his ability to be a summer time anthem and then do a complete 180 with Daddies and Daughters. Like any good time Texas artist, he faces his fair share of criticism, but I have always enjoyed his music. While working to expand my horizons in the Spring, I was listening to some artists like Chris Ledoux in hopes of finding some others like him. I browsed a few and found myself hooked on one in particular. With a little research I found out this guy is not only a singer/songwriter, but also one of Kevin Fowler's guitar players. Small world eh?
Paul Eason has a voice that fits right in with the best of the cowboy scene of country music. First listens will make it known that Paul wants nothing to do with country music that doesn't encompass the classic style of artists like LeDoux. Heavy fiddle, accordion, organ, steel, and mandolin all work together in harmony on Black Horse Mesa.
What I have learned, (and hopefully you too) is that there are so many talented artists out there that receive little to no press. Ability is not the problem with many of them. It could be a few things really. Maybe they are content with just selling a few albums and enjoy it as a hobby, or they may have a fulfilling (and very busy) job like Eason likely does with Kevin Fowler. Whatever the case, it's always enjoyable to find some of these artists and share them with you. Black Horse Mesa is an album that revolves around the cowboy lifestyle and it's believable the entire time.
There are stories of the attachment to one's home and at the same time, the life of a road warrior. The title track spends some time on being laid to rest on the place he spent so many years working the fields and experiencing the changing seasons. The familiarity and loyalty to the place that provided a lifetime's worth of harvest. But there's also the realization of being a soul fit for the road with Only Happy on the Highway. It's a life many dream but only few can handle. There are those that enjoy the changing scenery, the lack of predictableness and the exciting feeling of exploration while many enjoy the "rinse and repeat" routine.
Home is where my heart is / heart is where my pillow lands
- a line from Only Happy on the Highway
Instrumentals shine on The Wide and Winding where Eason has created an exceptionally traditional, yet upbeat track. The band talks back and forth via strings while sentiments are shared about not taking the easy way through life. It's all too often that people fail to better themselves or even take a shot at something because they think it's unattainable or are afraid at making mistakes. We as a society have become so out of touch with what hard work is. I'm certainly not saying we need to work a million hours or be away from family and have no life. But rather we need to remember that if we want something, we need to have a sense of determination and focus to accomplish a goal. Watching television every night is a distraction, not a path to success or potential wealth. Something to keep in mind.
Sometimes at the end of an album, there are some tracks that are just thrown in at the end. I can assure you, that this is not at all the case here. A song I was unfamiliar with but absolutely loved, was Beauty Way which was written by Eliza Gilkyson. I decided to look up the original and found Eliza's version to have it's own unique almost country rock twang sound while Eason's is more traditional sounding. While it was written for her father, other artists such as Ray Wylie Hubbard have covered it before. I'll post each Eason's and Gilkyson's versions below to let you compare the two versions and see the creativity from each artist.
While Paul Eason has a solid gig touring with Kevin Fowler across the country spreading that honky tonk and good vibes, he's not too shabby an artist himself, no matter his aspirations. Black Horse Mesa is a definite must listen for traditional country fans.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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