Charley Crockett, ‘In the Night’
For those who follow Leon Bridges’ every move, Charley Crockett, at first glance, cuts a familiar figure, favoring anachronistic dress and a musical style as far afield from the Top 40 as is possible. Any similarities are purely surface: The South Texas native, raised in Dallas and now residing in Austin, is after something far more primal and messy than Bridges, reveling in the humidity and grit of the blues and classic country, emanating from a roadside shack, tempting and testifying in equal measure.
In the Night, Crockett’s sophomore album, is an impressive calling card, full of Crockett’s plaintive soulfulness and swinging tempos. I’m Workin’ comes closest to a contemporary vibe, but Night is best when Crockett conjures spirits of the past into something immediate and irresistible.
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Crystal Yates, ‘The Other Side’
This is a brief collection casting a formidable shadow. McKinney singer-songwriter Crystal Yates bares her soul on The Other Side and delivers one of the most stirring performances the North Texas music scene has yet produced in 2016.
A combustible mixture of R&B, gospel, country, rock and folk, Yates’ five-song EP, which follows 2014’s sophomore effort I Believe, is a breathtaking showcase for her exposed-nerve songwriting and astonishing, roof-raising voice.
Produced by Yates, her husband, Will, and the tireless McKenzie Smith (who also contributed drums and percussion), The Other Side moves easily from the precipice of damnation (the harrowing opener Leave Me Alone to Die) to the hard-won pleasures of long-term love (Made to Last), marking Yates as an incandescent talent to watch.
Alexandria Rhea, ‘Naked Soul’
For all of the musical genres percolating in and around Fort Worth, there are not nearly enough jazz vocalists making a go of it (or, if there are, they aren’t passing along their recorded works). Alexandria Rhea’s arresting debut, Naked Soul, trips the light fantastic across soul, jazz and pop, relying upon Rhea’s limber, intoxicating voice and wit: The Dodger, a shuffling, gleefully profane declaration of self (capped with a barking dog), is one of the most effervescent local songs in recent memory.
Rhea evokes the merry lunacy of Nellie McKay, who likewise unapologetically cribs from a half-dozen genres and fuses it all into a singular sound setting her apart from her contemporaries.
Doug Burr, ‘Country Girls in City Dresses’
Following close on the heels of last year’s full-length Pale White Dove, this brief but welcome offering from Doug Burr — three songs totaling almost 16 minutes — is another in the Denton troubadour’s ever-growing collection of stirring creations that blur the lines between folk, rock and gospel.
Country Girls in City Dresses, the title track, is a six-minute slow burn, as gripping as the wordless Ghost on Water is rollicking, while Mirrorball glows like its namesake. Burr’s brilliance is easy to take for granted, but don’t: He is one of the finest songwriters this state has ever produced.
Burr will perform Saturday at Fort Worth’s Shipping & Receiving with Sarah Jaffe.
Hudson Moore, ‘Getaway’
Fort Worth native Hudson Moore, who hangs his hat in Nashville these days, returns after a nearly six-year absence with Getaway, following 2010’s Fireworks. Moore has only refined his smooth blend of pop-rock and country in the interim; his ingratiating voice glides over infectious tracks like lead single Some Are or the soulful rave-up Girl Like You.
Moore, who co-produced these 14 tracks with Dwight A. Baker, fits easily into Nashville’s new, elastic definition of country music, using his Lone Star State-honed chops to stake a claim as a singer-songwriter on the rise in hyper-competitive Music City.