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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Emerging blues band embodies flirtacious sounds in debut album

By Kenney Kost/managing editor

A mix of New Orleans blues, the soulful country epics of the ’90s and a little modern indie-folk experimentation, Kail Baxley’s debut effort Heatstroke/The Wind and the War double EP sets the bar high for his future musical endeavors.

Baxley draws heavily on the singer/songwriter format but arranges instrumentation around his tunes almost to perfection. The album kicks off with “Don’t Matter To Me,” a slow-chugging romp that is a straightforward ode to New Orleans blues on the surface. A nice churning bassline gives way to ascending and descending guitar work. It’s near the middle that the explosion of haunting brass instrumentation takes over and turns the song into an epic.

 

Experimentation lets Baxley’s music borrow from various themes and time periods for effective sound. Photo courtesy of Forty Below Records
Experimentation lets Baxley’s music borrow from various themes and time periods for effective sound. Photo courtesy of Forty Below Records

“Boy Got It Bad” shows off Baxley’s vocal versatility. Reminiscent of the songs sung on a chain gang in the 1800s, the song opens with simple clapping for percussion and Baxley’s howling vocals. “You know, he said in a prayer like a war cry any day that fire will come. He had a six-gun smile and a boat full of broken chains. He gonna ride that river right out of country lane.”

The highlight of the album closes out the first EP and leads you into the indie-folk of the second EP. “Say Goodbye to the Night” is a masterpiece. Combining guitar, vocals and violin into a work of art, the song speaks to the artist overcoming the isolation and desperation of the first half of the album and embracing the sunlight of a new day.

Baxley invites listeners to shrug off any problems they may have and join him. “Say goodbye to the night. There’s a new day for you burning bright. If we were lost, I think we’re found now. Come one, come all now as the morning shines out.”

Another standout, “Legend of the Western Hills” may be the best instrumental and vocal arrangement on the album. Intricate acoustic polyrhythms mixed with violins and chilling backing vocals combine to tell the story of two lonely souls wandering the night. “He’ll drift alone until the daylight comes. Still she roams as the moonlight calls dancing winds of western hills.” The song pulses and swells right up to the bridge when everything drops out but soft acoustic with eerie violin crescendos underneath and Baxley’s vocals finishing out the tale of the two drifters.

As with any debut, the album is far from perfect. The build-up to “Say Goodbye to the Night” and “Legend of Western Hills” loses momentum as Baxley flirts and experiments with various styles and sounds. The closing tracks aren’t bad, but they are overshadowed by the album’s climax leaving the listener wanting more of the epic sound they just experienced.

Baxley has the potential to be a force in the industry. If the debut is any indication, Baxley has a bright future ahead of him as he says goodbye to the night and steps out into light of creativity.

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