CD Review – Rayland Baxter “feathers & fishHooks”
Don’t think the copy editor-vexing capitalization used on the title and liner notes of ‘feathers&fishHooks,’ the latest release by new Nashville artist Rayland Baxter, signals anything but a love for fun.
Indeed, Baxter, who has become something of a constant on tours by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and The Civil Wars, is a traditional Americana artist in the best sense of the word. His deeply personal songs, often featuring fierce pedal steel courtesy of his multi-instrumentalist father Bucky Baxter, puts one in mind of the dusty country songs recorded by Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and even Steve Earle.
Perhaps that’s not surprising when you consider Baxter likely grew up steeped in such sounds thanks to his father’s legendary work with everyone from R.E.M. to Bob Dylan.
Baxter’s love of Americana is clear right from the first track on the album, “The Mtn Song.” This up-tempo Americana tune flecked with pop and country (yup, it’s got that gorgeous pedal steel) is a tribute to anyone who’s ever been in love – “Here I stand in front of you to say, you’re the only one I want, but love is all I have to give.”
Simple, succinct and beyond catchy.
And that’s the beauty of Rayland Baxter’s offering.
Wherever the album’s 12 tracks veer — from jangly pop “Driveway MeLody” (love the shout out “This is for you, Grandma”) to ballads (“The Woman for Me” with lyrics that include: “Never in my lifetime, has been my eyes been fortunate enough to see, the woman for me.”), to songs of longing “oLivia” (featuring some pretty high-end whistling) — the journey is a celebration of the playfulness and pain that makes our lives such an ever-changing thrill ride.
Clearly, Baxter is poised to become a force in Americana.