For an immensely talented 26-year old songwriter with a packed tour schedule and a praised new record, Dalton Domino can sometimes sound like he isn't exactly having the time of his life.
"Since January I've been in some sort of funk," he says as he drives to College Station for a recent performance.
"It's a self-made funk, like a deep hole I've dug for myself. It's been like a quarter-life crisis or something, man. I've been asking myself things like, 'Is doing this going to be worth it down the road when I look back at it all?'"
But really, Domino, who recently moved back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area after spending some time in Stephenville, is enjoying life, he insists. Though he says he deals with "a lot of self-loathing," he adds that he's "grateful for the life" he has.
Such a roller coaster of experiences, in the right hands, is often fuel for excellent songs.
His recently released album Corners, the stellar follow-up to his well-received 2015 debut 1806, is a portrait of a young man with a lot of explaining to do. It's an intensely personal collection of songs that doesn't pretty up life's uglier instances.
"Putting all of these bad things on a record just makes me feel better," Dalton Domino says. "Maybe I should talk to a therapist instead of however many thousands of people buy my record or see my shows."
A brutally honest and colorful Twitter user, Domino is as intriguing an artist as the latest generation of Texas-based songwriters has to offer. An air of raw emotional unpredictability lends to his music honest individuality that's often missing in the crowded airwaves and stages of the Texas country scene. It's not surprising that revered veteran artists including Cody Canada, Wade Bowen and Jack Ingram, the last of which sings on the new album's title track, have taken Domino under their wings and see a great deal of potential in him.
In May, Rolling Stone named him one of the 10 New Country Artists You Need to Know, and in his signature mix of sweet and sour, Domino's colorful truth painted a picture few of us would be brave enough to admit to a close friend, let alone many thousands of social media followers. (Some of his posts, as is the case with the Instagram message below, tend to be on the NSFW side.)
Furthering his emotionally eccentric credentials: This funny, talkative performer isn't fond of crowds. He kind of hates them.
"It's kind of hypocritical of me," he says with a knowing laugh. "But crowds make me nervous and drunks freak me out, and sometimes, I just gotta roll. So, yeah, I guess I picked a weird business to get into."
His sober-living path, one that was interrupted in January with a four-day bender, not only provided him with song material, but it's also given him substance to grab onto and build upon.
Even in his self-imposed "funk," he finds great value in his sobriety since that January slip-up. "I'm at 136 days sober now," he says. "And these 136 days mean the world to me because I haven't just stopped drinking, but I'm making steps and taking this seriously and really trying to fix myself this time."
Corners is Domino's current statement of truth. And it's a good one. In fact, it's one of the year's best country records.
"I'm not saying that Corners is the best album I'll ever make," he says. "But I'll never be able to make another one like it again because there were so many highs and lows and a lot of living on this record that can't happen again. And I'm grateful for the lows."
Dalton Domino performs on June 22 at Billy Bob's Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth. Details here.