Earlier this month, I wrote about The Texas Gentlemen, an act comprised of a core group of bandleader and founding member Beau Bedford, Nik Lee, Daniel Creamer, Matt McDonald, Ryan Ake and a constantly evolving and rotating cast of collaborators and friends, that was initially assembled as an all-purpose backing band for an eclectic array of singer/songwriters including Leon Bridges, Nikki Lane, Shakey Graves, Delta Spirit’s Matthew Logan Vasquez, Jack Ingram, Terry Allen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ray Benson, Joe Ely and many others — and in a similar fashion to The Wrecking Crew, The Muscle Shoals Swampers (who once backed Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and a lengthy list of soul legends), Booker T. and The M.G.’s and The Band. Now as you may recall, the members of The Texas Gentlemen backed the legendary Kris Kristofferson at this first Newport Folk Festival appearance in more than 45 years, and the set lead to a series of critically applauded shows across Texas.
Building on their growing reputation as a go-to backing band, the band signed to New West Records, who will release their full-length debut effort TX Jelly on September 15, 2017. Recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, the album, which was produced by the band’s Beau Bedford was recorded live to tape over four days in a raucous recording session and features material that touches on the blues, soul, folk, country rock, gospel and Southern rock. As Bedford described the recording sessions to the folks at Paste, “We set up our own version of Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer camp and invited our friends down to FAME studios. We figured at worst, we would have a great time as friends hanging out in one of the most historic studios in America. There was so much mojo once we turned all of the gear on, sounds just started popping out of the speakers, and the songwriters couldn’t help but feed off the energy. TX Jelly is the fruition of years of kinship and a deep hunger by our collective group for American roots music.”
TX Jelly’s first single “Habbie Doobie” was a sweaty, funky and hook-driven bit of down home, Southern rock that sounded as though it drew from The Allman Brothers, The Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Black Crowes but with the free-flowing improvised feel of a bunch of old friends jamming and hitting upon a groove, with each individual musician knowing where the other was going next. And while easily displaying the cool, self-assuredness of old pros, the song is a decidedly bold introduction to the band as an independent unit. Fittingly enough, TX Jelly’s second single “Pain” is a jangling and old-timey boogie that touches upon The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “What’s Your Name,” Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck In The Middle With You” and naturally, much of the sounds of the early 1970s — but much like the preceding single, they do so with the soulful and swaggering self-assuredness of old studio hands.
Directed by Horatio Baltz, the recently released video for “Pain” is inspired by 70s and 80s slasher flicks and features a gorgeous femme fatale, who causes a hell of a lot of pain for her victims — victims, who look quite a bit like members of the band. There’s sure to be pain in their lives, and a few bloody deaths, too.