There’s not much more I like to talk about than the awesome young Texas talent that keeps making noise in the Lonestar state. Remember friends, those that are coming up the ranks now, are the big and bright stars of tomorrow. A few months back I was thumbing through Spotify and saw a name I hadn’t heard before and decided to give it a go. It’s one of the moments where it can be incredibly rewarding taking a chance with a new artist, or one you fail to visit again. I can assure you, I have been listening to that young man a lot. San Antonio’s very own, Clay Hollis.
Possessing an incredibly smooth voice and an obvious high-energy on his self-titled EP, Hollis has been one that I have not been able to stop listening to. Right off the bat with It’s My Money, he pulls you in with the up-tempo performance of the entire band. It’s such a catchy song he even had Stoney LaRue singing with him at Steamboat! The jamming of the keyboard, the electric guitar and the pedal steel all turn it up to 11 on this one while Hollis gets everyone ready for their night out. The only thing he doesn’t supply you with is the ice-cold beer.
In a lot of ways, I think of Clay Hollis as being similar Jon Pardi and in my eyes, that’s a damn good thing. Both are able to tell a story in their songs that perfectly strike that middle ground between the commercial side of country and the Red Dirt scene. His self-titled EP features songs that speak to the average joe and not the materialistic target of mainstream music. He sings of the stubbornness of a man trying to right his wrongs with the woman he loves (Hard Headed Heart) and the frustrations with the same old static on the radio (Strait to Jones). It’s about knowing your audience and the type of people that make up your fan base. Hollis is able to tap into all of this and build the instrumentation in a way that feels contemporary but every bit as Texas-rooted - just as it should.
I observe many conversations on music and I have concluded that there are snobs on both sides. We have people that think anything that isn’t slow and boring is basically bro-country and there are others that think anything with pedal steel is “too country.” I have seen people call Cody Johnson bro-country. How out of touch are you?
Like much in life, it’s best to find a middle ground and most of all, make the art that you believe in. One can certainly make incredibly commercial music and probably sell it by the boat load, but there is something to be said for those that stick to their heart and make what they are passionate about. To make a living making music people must buy it and attend your shows.
I can safely say that Hollis is one that I would stand in line to see and believe he will be following in the footsteps of artists like Cody Johnson and Jon Pardi in no time.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!