Folk music can be a powerful vehicle. From the humor and anger of Woody Guthrie to the vivid, heart-ripping songs of John Moreland, raw and real is a common theme. Dallas folk-rock artist Chris J. Norwood drew from a personal well of emotional experience on his new album Longshot.
It's Norwood's first full-length album, and it follows two previously released EPs. Longshot confronts Norwood's loss of his father as a child and also dives into his thoughts as he recently prepared to become a father himself. To be released on Aug. 11 via Dallas-based State Fair Records (Vandoliers, Pueblo), Longshot was recorded in Austin with the help of producer Chris Masterson, an immensely talented musician and one-half of the husband-wife Americana duo The Mastersons, who convinced Norwood it was time to open the studio doors.
Listen to "That Damn White Picket Fence" by Chris J. Norwood:
A group mentality "gave these songs more life," Norwood says about his time in Austin with his producer and the other musicians, which included Masterson's wife and bandmate Eleanor. "They grooved better and felt more human. It's how music is supposed to be played. Everyone together, feeding off each other and making the songs better."
In "That Damn White Picket Fence," a galloping country tune, Norwood is a man taking a look back at his childhood home as he reconciles memories of the past with the realities of the present. His clear, plain-spoken tone is ideal for this type of storytelling, where literal clarity packs a bigger punch than abstract imagery can.
For Norwood, honestly facing a painful past seems to have been the clearest path into a joyful future.
Chris J. Norwood performs with John Pedigo on Aug. 11 at 9:30 p.m. at Three Links, 2704 Elm Street, Dallas. $10. threelinksdeepellum.com.