We are hearing a lot about Cale Tyson at the moment. The singer-songwriter from Nashville (born in Texas) was one of Rolling Stone’s “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know” back in 2014, and his unique, rather peculiar brand of honky-tonk country sets him apart from the mainstream pop-country trends. Cale Tyson released 2 EPs in the US that were combined to make ‘Introducing Cale Tyson’ here in the UK, but ‘Careless Soul’ is Cale’s first full-length studio album.
His refreshing approach to his music is similar to the likes of Andrew Combs and Sam Outlaw, bringing back a traditional feel whilst maintaining a modern appeal with intricately crafted lyrics and catchy melodies. The opener ‘Staying Kind’ begins with a honky-tonk piano and country brass section, and is a light-hearted tune about a woman who will stick around through thick and thin. The instrumentation really gets under your skin; it’s a masterclass in production from Michael Rinne, bassist for Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.
The positivity doesn’t last long, however. ‘Somebody Save Me’ is a moody, atmospheric waltz full of regret, looking back on wrong-doings in a relationship. “I’m crossing my fingers but I won’t cross the line. If anyone sees her, tell her come home”. It’s painful to hear (in a good way!), and Cale has a wonderful ability to convey immense heartache with his delivery.
A particular highlight is ‘Easy’, a real stomping country track that sees him putting the heartache and pain to one side, in search of a girl with “pretty green eyes and big old thighs”. Rolling Stone described Cale’s sound as “old school outlaw country”, a perfect description for this track, highlighting the aspects of a true “outlaw” lifestyle – hot rods, bars and gambling addictions. It’s like a runaway train; as country as it gets and one which would sound incredible live.
‘Travelling Man’ follows and is a clear stand-out on the album. We are brought right back down to earth with a bang, once again delving into the depths of despair, this time from the perspective of a dreamer struggling to make a mark. “Some of us folks are just luckier than you, but you’re dying to keep trying”. The fiddle backing is stunning, combined with a gorgeous slide guitar and gentle backbeat resulting in one of those ‘goosebump’ melodies.
‘Dark Dark’ is reminiscent of Andrew Combs’ ‘Slow Road To Jesus’, a dreary but incredibly intricate, authentic track about someone battling to wipe away memories driving them down a “dark, dark road”. It paints a picture of a man slowly losing all hope, falling deeper and deeper into an inescapable trap. You can almost imagine a lonely man in a bar, drinking away his troubles with no objective in life. It really tugs at the heart strings.
In all honesty, there isn’t a weak track in sight. An awful lot of work has gone into crafting this project, and it has well and truly paid off. It’ll bring you joy, it’ll bring you pain, it’ll lift you up and drop you back down in an instant. A real roller coaster ride of emotions. That’s what real country music is all about.
Cale Tyson will embark on a UK tour in May, playing 14 dates starting in Shipley on May 1st. Check out the full tour schedule at caletyson.net