Will Beeley comes to the end of the line on his ghostly new road song “U.S. 85,” from his upcoming LP Highways & Heart Attacks. It’s the Texas singer-songwriter’s first new recording in 40 years.
To say Beeley’s new album has been four decades in the making would be something of an overstatement. After releasing a pair of albums in the Seventies, 1971’s Gallivantin‘ and 1979’s all-too-appropriately-titled Passing Dream, the San Antonio native — having a young family to support — hung up his guitar and took up the life of a long-haul trucker. That may have been the end of the road for Beeley, had California label Tompkins Square not contacted him about reviving both long-lost albums a few years back.
“U.S. 85,” named for a highway that runs from North Dakota to New Mexico, is one of several new songs that Beeley has finished since those two 2017 re-releases, and it bears the clear mark of his years spent behind the wheel. Spacious, spare and simmering, the song hums along with reverb-soaked guitar and a stuttering accordion while Beeley — referencing Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” and Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” — sings of a border crossing that lies somewhere between the end of his route and the end of opportunity.
Beeley recorded Highways & Heart Attacks at Grammy winner Joe Trevino’s Black Cat Studios in San Antonio, with Trevino serving as engineer and Jerry David DeCicca as producer. Among those appearing on the record are Mavericks’ accordionist Michael Guerra and violinist Bobby Flores (Willie Nelson). Highways & Heart Attacks will be released June 14th by Tompkins Square.