One lesson many songwriters never learn is that the best songs almost always succeed because they are based on something specific, something concrete that resonates with universal meaning. Too many writers, trying to find that universal meaning, wallow in generalities rather than specifics.
When a Nashville executive told Mark David Manders his songs were too specific, Manders and a couple of bandmates wrote a six-minute, two-word song: "Beer," that closes out the Texan's solid new album. Manders wrote all of the songs (two with Max Stalling and one with David Bennett), and thankfully managed to make each song very personal and specific. The lyrics have the strong sense of place, culture, and honesty that define the best Texas singer-songwriter genre. Manders finds the occasional gem like "Anne Marie," a song about love and dreams inspired by the inscription on the West Texas grave of an Irish infant, and "Scars and Souvenirs," about a beloved survivor.
The hard-working Nuevo Tejas band is strong, led by Bennett on fiddle (and mandolin, Uilleann pipes, and whistles). Russ Sherefield on upright bass and Charlie Kautz on drums and harmony vocals. (Box 250248, Plano, TX 75025)