In an effort to detect as much of 2020’s silver lining as we can, it’s important to note that while live music hasn’t been much of an option in recent months, new music from our favorite local artists has thankfully not been in short supply. Just this week a couple of the best country and Americana-minded talents in North Texas released new songs, previewing their respective upcoming record releases.
With Quiet Lives, his latest full-length album set to arrive in September, singer-songwriter Garrett Owen has just released his first new song in quite some time. “These Modern Times” begins with a folksy, acoustic vibe before giving way to a sweeping, pastoral arrangement that will delight fans of Fleet Foxes and Denton’s own Midlake.
In the song, Owen laments society’s dependency on technology, singing, “We could die without WiFi, no one would even know our name.” In some cases with other artists, including such technical, literal references could send a song into rather hokey territory, but Owen avoids such melodrama by making the song relatable and personal.
Owen says he's currently in Caprock Canyons State Park and was inspired by "mine and everyone’s struggle to get away from devices and just be for a while."
"I love movies, but sometimes I feel sad about how much time I’ve spent staring at all these screens, looking for likes and comments," he tells the Observer. "When the most fulfilling times in my life were in third world countries with little need or access to technology. 'My brain got locked inside my phone' was not really a funny line when I wrote it. I was just sad about it."
It’s not surprising to hear someone with Owen's family history sing a line such as “right at my fingertips, the endless options drive me mad.” Before living in Dallas-Fort Worth, Owen spent many of his younger years living with his missionary parents in far-flung spots including Kenya, Tanzania and Ecuador. “These Modern Times” is one of the songs form the upcoming album Owen wrote during a trip to the Brazos River, where, we assume, a lack of digital connectivity helped the singer rely on his heart and mind more than Google searches.
It's also been far too long since we had a new album from Dallas country-soul supergroup Texas Gentlemen, hasn’t it? Well, we’re near the end of that wait thanks to the July 17 release of the collective’s latest record from New West, Floor It! The follow-up to 2017’s impeccable TX Jelly marks a new era for the group due to the exit of former bandleader Beau Bedford.
Judging by the new songs we’ve heard so far, Bedford’s departure hasn’t hurt the band’s high-quality output. You’ll be hard-pressed to unearth a finer summertime jam from a local outfit than the latest tune the Gents have released from the new record, “Easy St.” With Daniel Creamer handling vocals and playing the keys, this infectious track combines a playful honky-tonk piano flavor with elements that recall some rather groovy greats of the past.
When Creamer sings “Won't you take me down to Easy Street, get me out of this Texas heat,” it’s nearly impossible to not be hit with the pot-scented harmonies of the Grateful Dead and even the Beatles, but with the Gentlemen’s own soulful brand of breezy, free-flowing fun.