Hear Texas Troubadour Ryan Culwell Evoke Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ on New Album
Ryan Culwell grew up in the Texas panhandle, a windswept place filled with oil fields and open plains. It was there, surrounded by flatlands stretched to the horizon, that he began writing his own songs, looking to better understand the spirit and sparseness of his home by setting it to a soundtrack of acoustic Americana and dusky folk music.
It took a move to Nashville during the early 2010s, though, to give Culwell the sort of objectivity he needed to really define his birthplace. On next month’s Flatlands, he sings about dust storms, long workdays and cold weather, driving each song home with a voice that’s simultaneously warm and worn — the embodiment of a dogeared land whose residents sport resilience and battle scars in equal doses. (Stream the record below, one week before its March 3rd release.)
“I couldn’t make this kind of music in Texas,” he says. “Years ago, I was playing my songs in a bar there, and some kid walked up to me in the first cowboy hat he ever owned and said, ‘Play some Texas country!’ And I said, ‘What the hell do you think I’m doing?’ I grew up 100 feet from a wheat field, so I’d always thought of myself as, ‘Here I am in this Texas country scene, playing my songs.’ That day, though, I looked at my wife and said, ‘Maybe we can’t do this here.'”
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