“For its third compilation of tunes by (mostly) North Texas artists, the Dallas/Oklahoma City-based labelHand Drawn Records decided to keep things unified and organic. Hand Drawn invited a select group of artists into a studio in Copper Canyon, Texas, for a two-day session, requesting only that they keep the arrangements simple, spare, and free from overdubs. The result is a striking showcase of musicianship and songwriting skills, many tracks belonging to regulars in the Fort Worth scene.
Fort Worth’s Bad Mountain opens the collection with a slice of Appalachian funk. In the baroque country stomper “Tell Me Mama,” frontman Jesse Anderson growls and wails like a meth-head in the moonlight. (That’s a compliment, by the way.) Gollay, a.k.a. Fort Worth singer-songwriter and Un Chien guitarist Rachel Gollay, delivers “Built for Love,” a somber and thoughtful warning. Her voice gorgeously aloof and aching at the same time, she laments, “I don’t think he’s built for love” with a precision and restraint barely holding back a tsunami of heartbreak. Gollay sings harmony with Un Chien frontman Stephen Beatty on Un Chien’s “The Way She Goes,” a similar hard-learned love lesson (this time about a girl) with an acoustic rhythm guitar line that has the delicate, haunting quality of glass fibers being strummed. (Reverb and echo effects are the only major sonic sweeteners that pop up throughout Volume 3.)
Joey and Matt Swindle of Fort Worth’s Swindle Boys take full advantage of reverb on their art-rock workout “The Stranger,” in which electric guitars gather and billow like storm clouds while Joey earnestly intones, “The stranger will love you” like some ancient prophecy. Singer-songwriter and Un Chien bassist Taylor Craig Mills turns wry with “War of Words,” a kind of satirical deconstruction of the cowboy myth, with Mills singing in a self-serious baritone, “Don’t you like this smile? / It’s cracked as your heart was wild / Don’t you like this swagger?”
It turns into a lament for the doomed nature of all masculine poses, and, like the rest of Volume 3, manages to take you in several intriguing directions over the course of one tune.” –– Jimmy Fowler