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William Clark Green

Ringling Road – 2015 (Bill Grease)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by William Clark Green

The Texas music scene is renowned for its stubborn commitment to individualism and focus on song writing. As a result, Texas musicians often find mainstream success to be an elusive dream. Despite the steadfast vow of independence that keeps many of these artists out of many households, the songs are often some of the best crafted in the broad range of country related subgenres. William Clark Green is one of the Texas artists who is well known on the local club scene, but resides beyond the spotlight.

Green acknowledges the divide between artistic appreciation and financial stability on lead track "Next Big Thing" where he sings "Pretty little thing wanna talk to me backstage, little does she know, I don't make minimum wage."

Not as ragged as Red Dirt rebel Hayes Carll, nor as polished as Texas country artist Aaron Watson, Green simply relies on writing solid songs. The vocals take back seat to the lyrics and music, which is fine since his sweet singing isn't as interesting as the songs themselves.

The album packaging is interesting, but the only track that lives up to the promise of the art is the fantastic title track, which struts along with a vague jazz swagger. The lyrics paint an interesting picture of a travelling circus. This is easily one of the best songs that Green has recorded, taking inspiration from Tom Waits rather than his peers.

Despite the superiority of "Ringling Road," there is still plenty to enjoy on the album. The moody "Final This Time" is a heartfelt duet that creeps along with howling pedal steel accompaniment. On "Going Home" he ups the rock and roll, adding some cool throwback vibes in the vein of The Doobie Brothers.

The striking cover art warns listeners to expect something interesting. While a lot of the songs approach stereotypical Texas country, Green makes the most of subtle experimentation and keeps the music engaging when viewed as a whole package. At its most basic, "Ringling Road" is a country album with a rock and roll edge, following in the footsteps of great modern songwriters. This is an interesting album from a Texas scene that occasionally appears formulaic.