Austin Mayse – Bridges and Kerosene
Austin Mayse has a genuinely warm inspired delivery typical of many country artists. He doesn’t sound corny, wimpy, or sweetly traditional. It’s an ear-caressing self-assured showcase. The 10-song set was produced in Austin, TX by Chris Beall (guitars/backing vocals) & has a well-recorded confident sound.
Austin (rhythm guitar/LP vibraslap/trumpet) has strong performance skills on these songs. He follows a more country-edged path than the more mainstream artists. Commercially, his “Leave Your Leavin’” is the most pop-oriented of his material. Catchy, but you’ve probably heard it before. As a mainstream effort – it’s the sweetest pastry in the box. But career-wise Austin, to me, leans closer to Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Webb Wilder, Mickey Newberry, Jefferson Ross & Kris Kristofferson than say George Strait.
“Wretch Like Me,” is an exception. It’s loaded with John Prine’s tendencies & phrasing. But it’s good. Real good. “Rattlesnake,” while explicit is dipped for a few moments in Townes van Zandt’s cauldron where “Waitin’ Around To Die” was born. It has a wonderfully chilling trumpet (unexpected) & it smokes. The trumpet returns on “The Last Rose of Summer,” & slowly starts to sound like a possible signature sound for Mr. Mayse.
Avoidance? Song-wise Austin should lyrically avoid whiskey, trucks, big hats, tight jeans, rodeos, beer & drinking. It’s been done. I don’t find these subjects thankfully in abundance on this CD. I understand that many tunes by artists are birthed through real-life experiences. So long as their story is told with some creativity & not typical language. It’s the reason Bob Dylan, despite a challenging voice, was revered as a writer. Nothing here by Austin Mayse is mediocre.
This is his 2nd CD — Bridges and Kerosene (Drops Jan 27–Independent) with some songs having a somewhat Tex-Mex flavor that digs into Doug Sahm’s trunk of inspiration. But Austin’s more soulful in his storytelling & while some songs are too stereotypical country like “Whiskey, I’m Gone,” which has Roger Miller overtones — Miller’s effective humor isn’t there.
“The Sober Light,” surprisingly arrives with a vintage oom-pah-pah beat & Rich Brotherton mandolin. Showcased as a dominant intelligent tune with the hook line — “there’s just me to blame,” that sticks. “Traveler’s Prayer,” is a carefully woven tapestry with strings. All are delivered as picturesque originals.
Musicians: Harmoni Kelley (bass/backing vocals), John Chipman (drums/percussion/backing vocals), Ron Flynt (keys), Geoff Queen (steel guitar), Jenee Fleenor (fiddle/viola), J.J. Plasencio (cello) with Amy Hooper, Tina Wilkins & Walt Wilkins (backing vocals).
A pleasant 45 minutes is what Bridges and Kerosene is. Intelligent country music. Highlights: “Wretch Like Me,” “Rattlesnake,” “On My Way,” “The Sober Light,” “The Last Rose of Summer,” “The Rose of Thorndale” & “Traveler’s Prayer.”
Color image courtesy of Austin’s website & Guitar image by Robynn Dodd. CD @ https://austinmayse.com/