Get pulled in by the indie country artist’s new album.
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The first time I heard Nashville singer/songwriter Rayland Baxter’s “Yellow Eyes” I was seized by an unlikely association: Santana. There’s a careening, golden guitar riff strung all throughout the song that evokes a billowing, unmistakably Latin vibe. This was only one of many times Baxter’s album surprised me as I listened, but I was drawn back to that track over and over — it’s easily the record’s stand-out. Still, the way Baxter pulls in nearly every genre imaginable without losing his own voice is what helps Imaginary Man float above the over-populated Americana/songwriter fray.
Baxter is the son of moderately-famous slide guitar player Bucky Baxter, who jammed with Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams and R.E.M., and it’s easy to imagine son eagerly listening and internalizing each of these artists while his father was off recording or touring. Raised in Nashville, Baxter eventually struck out as a musician in 2012 withFeathers & Fishhooks.
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Three years later he’s left such explicit signifiers in the past, and emerged with an impeccable sophomore break-out.
Racking up praise from reliable indie-Americana supporters like NPR and Rolling Stone Country, Baxter also caught the ear of the fashion crowd and the illustrious New York Times, who are streaming his new record ahead of its release next week. And it’s immediately clear why he’s escaped the country/roots pigeonhole: his voice has the same pliant dreaminess as Marcus Mumford.
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