Fort Worth singer-songwriter Keegan McInroe downplays his skill in the opening moments of Uncouth Pilgrims, his fourth studio album.
“I’m just another shaggy singer of songs,” he intones during Country Music Outlaws — a wry sentiment, to be sure, but also inaccurate. McInroe has the rare ability to make his shambling, rustic songs feel instantly familiar, which is a talent that’s more impressive than it might seem.
McInroe wears the late nights and long drives in every note he plays — the harmonica fluttering through Tonight feels like the ache of a hangover, or perhaps the violent glare of lights flicked on at last call — and that lived-in quality elevates these songs above straightforward country or folk sides. Every McInroe album is expansive (Pilgrims unfurls over 64 minutes), but these collections function less like statements than dispatches from a life spent searching for meaning in and through music.
McInroe will celebrate the release of Uncouth Pilgrims Saturday at Lola’s Saloon.
Hightower, ‘Echo Spring’
It takes less than 20 seconds for Hightower to knock you flat. The Fort Worth quintet, which bills its sound as “Texi-Cali,” astonishes quickly with the vocal prowess of the band’s namesake, Lindsay Hightower. There’s hurt and pride and knowing and vulnerability all wrapped up in her arresting delivery — the eight songs on Hightower’s debut, Echo Spring, herald the arrival of one of DFW’s brightest new talents. Produced by Joshua Jones and Russell Jack at Taylor Tatsch’s Audio Styles studio (all three of whom also perform on the album), this Spring is a stunner from start to finish. Hightower will perform Sunday at Fort Worth’s Common Ground Grill & Tap.
The O’s, ‘Honeycomb’
John Pedigo and Taylor Young, who make up Dallas-based The O’s, have been at it for nearly a decade. Given that fact, Honeycomb, the folk duo’s fourth LP, produced by Chris “Frenchie” Smith, lacks any genuine surprises. (The recording process, however, was unique: the band rented cabins behind New Braunfels’ River Road Ice House and cut the dozen tracks there.) That decision plays to the O’s strength as a live act, making Honeycomb feel as interconnected as its namesake. The O’s, touring the West Coast through the end of February, return home March 4 for a gig at Dallas’ Prophet Bar.