It's no secret that Dallas-Fort Worth is packed tighter with country talent than a Willie Nelson show at the Granada Theater. But we want to help you where we can in your honky-tonkin' endeavors, so here are a few of our favorite recent country releases from North Texas artists.
Jerrod Medulla — Suits Me
The sharpest-dressed country singer in town is also one of the most musically adventurous. Medulla's smoky 2012 record Speakeasy features "How Bad," a sultry duet with Canadian goth-country singer Lindi Ortega that's one of the best country songs to come out of this area in the past several years. Medulla has stepped up his game by returning with the highly enjoyable Suits Me. With his smooth baritone vocal providing ample moodiness, the new record isn't a traditional country collection but something more akin to what Bruce Springsteen may come up with after a few cigars on a West Texas back porch after dark.
The Vandoliers — The Native
There's probably not a group around these parts who embodies the term "cow punk" more than the Vandoliers. Led by Josh Fleming, who first made his name here as lead singer for punk band the Phuss, this twangy band is an all-star cast, with each member having excelled in other great local bands or even currently playing in other groups. On the new record, released by local label State Fair Records, Fleming's gnarly howl mixes with Tejano-style trumpets and a rockabilly recklessness that's at once unique and familiar. In concert, the Vandoliers energetically display why Rolling Stone recently named them an Act to Watch.
Deryl Dodd — Long Hard Ride
There was a time not too long ago when Deryl Dodd seemed destined for major label Nashville success. In the late '90s, the Dallas-born Dodd released some well-received singles, a couple of killer records and was nominated for an ACM award for Top New Male Vocalist. But a debilitating case of viral encephalitis abruptly thwarted Dodd's momentum, forcing him to basically start over in 2000. Since then, he's released several stone-cold country gems and has rightfully enjoyed status as a popular draw in the bustling Texas country circuit. His new record, Long Hard Ride, is somewhat of a victory lap, in that it features duets with 14 stars of the Texas country scene, including hot names such as Cody Johnson, Cody Jinks, Pat Green and Randy Rogers. The songs are all new takes on tunes from Dodd's substantial catalog. The Nate Kipp-penned duet with Jinks, "Loveletters and Cigarettes" is a highlight.
Jason Eady — Jason Eady
Over the course of 12 years and six albums, Eady, an Air Force vet married to fellow singer-songwriter Courtney Patton, has shown he can excel in multiple twangy gears, including bluesy folk and booze-soaked honky-tonk. Though his past two stellar records offered far more of the latter than the former, his latest album gives us a blend of all that makes him a special artist. No song offers greater proof of Eady's overall storytelling ability than "Barabbas," a pedal-steel-kissed tune about the Crucifixion as told from the perspective of the thief who was pardoned over Jesus. Again, Eady has crafted an album that's as hard-core country as it is gorgeous.
Dalton Domino — Corners
On his second record, 26-year-old Dalton Domino has made a bold statement. Looking back on the dissolution of a tumultuous relationship and the early stages of living a sober life, Dalton is perhaps the most promising voice of a new generation of Texas country music filled with high hopes. As entertaining as his frank and often foul-mouthed social media postings are, those are but mere windows into a vulnerability that can't be faked for the sake of outlaw posturing. Marquee names such as Cody Canada and Wade Bowen have brought Domino under their wings, and the new album's title track is a duet with Texas icon Jack Ingram. If nothing else, Corners just might prove Domino is better at this songwriting thing than most others.