Houston transplant Greg Schroeder has never wanted for talented backing players: His last release, Songs for a Bluebird, featured supporting performances from members of Hayes Carll's band; his new full-length, Schroeder, features most of Dallas' revered King Bucks, among other talented performers. And it's not hard to see how Schroeder can draw these players in. His country-folk hybrid is complex both lyrically and musically, never content to loiter too long in one place—even if, for the most part, the influences he's mining have long been combed over.
No matter: With his wispy and weary vocal delivery, Schroeder instantly endears, starting right away with album opener "Tattoo A Heart on My Sleeve," which capably sets the tone, if only in title, for this nine-song offering of tear-in-beer retrospectives and honky-tonk romps. Schroeder's no one-trick pony, though. "I'll Wait" is as touching a love song as one's likely to hear this year. "Lullaby," with its reverberated electronic guitar, paints a touching picture of a musician bidding his family goodnight before heading out to a gig. Meanwhile, the bilingual, Calexico-owing "This World Won't Break" stands as a distinct highlight, yet another production gem in Junius Recording Co.'s increasingly impressive catalog.
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Comparing Schroeder to Carll, given his point of origin and chosen aesthetic, would be lazy if it weren't so appropriate. But talent, clearly, is not a problem here, and Schroeder is earning an identity to call his own.