April 1, 2010

Week 30 - Brandon Rhyder - Head Above Water

(Week 30 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks)

“What good is a man in my kind of shape / I’m a dollar short and you’re 10 days late.” – “You Can Count On Me”

Brandon Rhyder
Head Above Water

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Brandon Rhyder live but his  Conviction got worn out in my truck’s CD player a few years back (my review on Conviction) . So, I was pretty pumped when Head Above Water got to my hands.  His sound is lumped in with the Red Dirt and Americana scene. His music is what turns a lot of folks on to him, but the hidden gem of this singer is he’s a phenomenal songwriter, and he continues to impress with this release.

I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled with the first single, “Rock Angel” when I heard it on the radio. It sounded too commercial for the Rhyder I was familiar with. But… it’s grown on me (and apparently I’m one of the few that it bothered as it hit #1 on the Texas Music Charts in February and it’s still in the top 30).

The title track is a beautiful ballad about being saved. I don’t know if it’s what he intended, but to me it’s a very spiritual song about finding God and trusting Him with the essence of your very being.

“You Can Count On Me” is a great underdog love story. In contrast “Ultimate Deceiver” is about the end of a relationship. “I’ll Take You” seems like a nice follow up to 2005’s “Back Roads” off Conviction. And “Battery” is about visiting the old stomping ground.

My favorite track on Head Above Water is “You Burn Me.” The lyrical genius on this song is worth the price of the CD alone. It’s a bit of a rocker about a former love. “You can burn me with a simple single touch / I get confused and think I’ve never loved this much / and without warning, you come rolling in like gasoline. / That’s why there’s never nothing left of me. ‘Cause you burn me.”

The bonus track, “Queen Of My Roost” sounds like something that Guy Forsyth would release. It’s a ragtime-charged love song that rocks like a “flapper in a 1920s dress.”

Head Above Water was produced by Walt Wilkins. It boasts twelve tracks (and an awesome bonus track), beautiful CD packaging and a “Making of” DVD.  I appreciate the lengths bands go through these days to get someone to actually buy a physical CD.

Check out Rhyder and band live at Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos on April 8, or visit http://www.brandonrhyder.com to see where he’s playing and how to grab a copy for yourself.

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