Sounds Like: A more sensitive Steve Earle, unafraid to sub orchestral strings for fiddles
For Fans of: Will Hoge, Ryan Beaver, Texas rule-breakin' troubadours like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Robert Earl Keen
Why You Should Pay Attention: It's tempting to lean on whiskey and wine as a source of creative inspiration, but the savviest artists know that the most intoxicating music is made with no chemicals at all. Just look at Jason Isbell's first sober solo LP, Southeastern. The same is true for Lubbock, Texas, singer Dalton Domino, who wrote his newest record, Corners, after quitting alcohol and drugs cold turkey. Turns out, clarity works. A staple on the Texas scene, Domino ditched the booze, locked himself up at a friend's house and, at the urging of Eric Church collaborator Travis Meadows, delved into his darker side, bringing solemn strings and thunderstorms of percussion into the mix. "I didn't really leave except to go on runs or smoke cigarettes," says Domino. "I just sat in a room and wrote these songs." It's a good thing he did: tracks like "Rain" fold somber Springsteen into a thoroughly Lone Star portrait of sadness, longing and redemption.
He Says: Growing up a skate-punk in Lubbock, Domino found his way into folk and country through a slightly unconventional source: Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes. "He's the Bob Dylan of our generation," says Domino. "I can't put into words how much I love Bright Eyes. That was the first real band I got into, and it led into Monsters of Folk, Cursive. But I'm a Bright Eyes geek. I heard the song 'Road to Joy' when I was 15. And I thought, 'Fuck Fall Out Boy, I'm going to listen to this.'"
Hear for Yourself: With an opening lick that conjures up Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song" as much as a Texas honky-tonk, "Decent Man" is a barn-burning ode to weighing intention above all else. M.M.