Brent Best is something of a North Texas music lifer.
The Denton-based singer-songwriter been in a handful of beloved local bands — Slobberbone, the Drams — and rightly holds a reputation as one of the state’s finest musical minds. Your Dog, Champ, Best’s long-gestating solo debut, will only serve to burnish that reputation. It’s one of the best albums to emerge from North Texas this year.
The fraught path of Champ’s creation, initially a crowdfunded endeavor, was detailed in an exhaustive and remarkably candid blog post Best wrote last month. The wait was worth it: Champ’s 11 tracks are rich with the sort of casual detail — “She gave me candy/While Grandpa Jonah pointed out the window, pointed out the years of cars,” Best sings in the beautiful Aunt Ramona — elevating these songs above Americana’s surface pleasures.
Perfumed with a Gothic fatalism, Best’s crushed gravel voice and understated approach — Best cut the album at Denton’s Transient Camp Recordings, enlisting some area heavy hitters like Scott Danbom and Petra Kelly to contribute — makes Champ a powerful, personal showcase.
Best will celebrate Champ’s release Friday at Dan’s Silverleaf.
Jonathan Tyler, ‘Holy Smokes’
Dallas singer-songwriter Jonathan Tyler has walked a winding path to this point in his career. Although Holy Smokes is being released under his own name, Tyler is still backed by the band formerly known as the Northern Lights, all of whom created the scorching debut Pardon Me five years ago (which makes Smokes the band’s sophomore LP).
Freed from the world of major labels, Tyler and his bandmates sound positively unburdened on the 11-track Smokes, which spills blues, rock and country on a barroom floor and lets them bleed together. Nikki Lane smolders on To Love is to Fly, but otherwise, Tyler supplies the fire fueling Smokes.
Tyler celebrates Smokes’ release Saturday at Trees, with support from Wesley Geiger, the Quaker City Night Hawks and Dead Flowers.
Shaun Martin, ‘7Summers’
The second track of Shaun Martin’s debut solo album, 7Summers, is titled One Big Party, as apt a description as you’re likely to find for this ebullient collection of jazz and R&B tracks overseen by the Grammy-winning Snarky Puppy pianist.
Over the course of a dozen songs, which took Martin seven years to complete, the full range of his artistic personality is on display, with help from collaborators like Claudia Melton, Adrian Hulet, Mark Lettieri and Geno Young.
It’s a stylish, soulful ride, marking Martin as one of the area’s top-flight talents.
Preston Jones, 817-390-7713