by: Thomas D. Mooney
A couple of years back, Lubbock songwriter Randall King released his debut album, Old Dirt Road. It was an uneven collection of 10 tracks that went back and forth between neo-traditional country callbacks to typical Texas country singer-songwriter tunes. Its best moments were just as high as any we’ve seen on a debut record in Lubbock. But, it was still a rough work in progress record from King. More than anything, Old Dirt Road was King getting his foot in the door and having something to work off.
It takes more time than most realize to develop and find their sound. While his Lubbock contemporaries have seen plenty of success with their own albums, King’s been sitting back and searching for that sound, which he’s ultimately found with his upcoming Another Bullet, a tightly-wound five-tracker built around his last single, the guitar-chugging “The Problem.”
Now King’s path from Old Dirt Road to Another Bullet isn’t an outright jump to something totally foreign or anything. But his fine tuning and focus on neo-traditional country ballads and honky-tonk homages has paid dividends. At just five songs, it never hits a lull or dragged down by filler tunes nor does it ever feel like a stop-gap collection just to buy time for an upcoming full-length album.
The slow burn of “Ain’t Waiting on You” reminds you of late ’80s and early ’90s country radio ballads by Keith Whitley (“I’m Over You”) and another King, early George Strait (“Chill of an Early Fall”). There’s a dose of melancholy weaved in that channels the two’s slower, lonesome moments.
“Another Bullet” is perhaps King’s best moment as a songwriter. It still rests in his ’90s country world of slick, wallowing pedal steel and smart hooks. But, it also lives in the realm of cowboy folk and acoustic singer-songwriter circles. It’d work just as well as a bare bones piece. With hints of West Texas dust and Ryan Bingham grit, King transforms into the cowboy on a shrinking range.
“Hard Livin’ Ilene” finds King and company–in this case, Cleto Cordero of Flatland Cavalry joins the fray–revving and ready to go. On the honky-tonk rambler, King and Cordero give us a tour of the trailer park and King’s crumbling Airstream and relationship. As they’d say, the world’s gone to hell since Ilene left.
Another Bullet is officially released this coming Friday, May 20. In addition, King and company will be playing an Album Release show at The Blue Light on Friday. Exclusively stream Another Bullet below.