Flatland Cavalry – Homeland Insecurity Review
Texan country is in a golden period right now. Artists like Cody Johnson and Aaron Watson are attacking the mainstream of Nashville, ruffling plenty of feathers along the way. Whereas, the likes of Wade Bowen are revered and respected by artists and fans alike (if you haven’t heard his 2017 album ‘Solid Ground’, make yourself a little note to do it straight after you’ve read this review!). A somewhat insular music scene, Texas is known for great songwriters from Guy Clark through to Ryan Bingham, amazing venues think Billy Bobs or Gruene Hall, and legendary artists like Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. Texas music can survive on its own, and it’s proving that with the raft of fantastic new artists coming from the state, Flatland Cavalry being one of them.
Since their debut album ‘Humble Folks’ in 2016, the band have toured relentlessly, honing their craft and building their name as one of the best live bands in Texas. ‘Homeland Insecurity’, an album with a title that probably sums up 2019 America as well as anything else, hasn’t been rushed out. Three years is a long time for a band on the road, and these guys have hit the road hard, meaning taking time to write and record can be a struggle.
The album opener is a song that fans of the band who’ve seen them live will be familiar with, ‘Come Back Down’ is a beautiful opener to the album. Written from the perspective of a parent watching their prodigal song come back from tour, it chugs along with some beautiful fiddle playing as Cleto Cordero sings “You’ve been in mine and your daddy’s prayers, Never cast one doubt, Knew the day we brought you home, You were bound to be a star”. It’s a song clearly written from experience, a fond look at those moments when you return home for the first time in a long time and sit down to catch up on life over a coffee.
One of the lead singles, ‘Honey Wine’ seamlessly follows and is a well-written and joyous love song. Full of the happiness of a warm summers day, singing about the one that you love. It’s sure to be a live favourite, with the lead guitar and fiddle stealing the show again. Lyrically, Cordero nails it with beautiful and heartfelt lyrics such as “‘Cause you’re the sweetest thing that I’ve ever known, When the beer runs out and the whiskey’s gone, Honeywine, you’re all I need”.
There are some real western vibes running through this record, ‘The Other Side of Lonesome’ is dripping with dancehall swagger, Cordero’s vocals full of a certain kind of sadness. It’s a song where Cordero tries to pull you through hard times, reminding you that there’s another side to lonesome. Again, the lead guitar shreds. Speaking of Texan dancehall vibes, one of the stars of the album ‘Pretty Women’ is a beautiful country waltz that’ll make you want to grab your partner and spin them round the dance floor. The lyrics are clever and the chorus of “Some pretty women are just really sad little girls, Tying up their problems with ribbons, Stringing the hurt up with pearls, She must be forgiven” is up there with the best in country music at the moment, perhaps only challenged by the truly beautiful and heart-breaking “Her daddy once told her “A man shouldn’t make you feel small, Your mom deserves better, I promise to write or to call, When you lose the affection, trust, and direction, The first man to love you at all”.
The band take the odd swerve away from their rootsy sound and give us some radio-friendly numbers, especially ‘Lonely Then’, a song that could cut through some of the country radio crap coming out of Nashville. Forget Nashville though, this is Texas and their music is independent and comes at you exactly how the artist wants it to.
The wistful ‘Years From Now’ closes out the album and we really do end things on a high. The guitar and fiddle kick things off, it sends a warm feeling through your body, just as Cleto Cordero sings the first few lines. This song looks to the future and paints a vivd picture of how things are going to be. The band kicks in as the second verse starts with another amazing example of songwriting “Years from now I’ll be brushing through my salt and pepper hair, As I comb through all of our memories, And you’re laughing in the sunshine drinkin’ like you’re on a dare, And your green eyes cut through the loudness of the street”. One thing that’s for sure is years from now Flatland Cavalry are sure to be a band that we look at as one of the finest country acts we’ve seen this century. I love country music for its honest and heartfelt songwriting and when I receive some albums to review, it saddens me at the absolutely shallow and cheap lyrics we get rammed down our throats over a hip hop groove. This album is my remedy.
1. Come Back Down
3. Old School
4. Other Side of Lonesome
5. Back to Me
6. Living by Moonlight
8. Lonely Then
9. Pretty Women
10. Sleeping Alone
11. Years from Now
Come Back Down, Lonely Then, Pretty Women, Years from Now
Six Shooter Rating
9.5 out of 10