Flatland Cavalry - Welcome to Countryland
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Welcome to Countryland (Self-released, 2021)

Flatland Cavalry

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

The third full-length release from the Lubbock,Texas-based Flatland Cavalry is an appealing mix of alt.-country with influences from the outlaw movement and '90s mainstream country. Frontman Cleto Cordero handles lead vocal duties along with writing or co-writing 13 of the 14 tracks. The opening "Country Is..." has a Merle Haggard feel and examines what defines "country" with such references as "But a steel guitar paints this old heart a shade of Cowboy Blue" and "We got us a fiddle in the band," but the concept is best embodied with the refrain "Country is what country means to you."

The steel guitar (Spencer Cullum) and fiddle (Wesley Hall) are nicely featured in the ballad "Tilt Your Chair Back" (co-written with Ryan Necci) in which Cordero contemplates ways to unwind in moments of stress ("With your best loved mug full of quittin' time tea/Sip the Present gift-wrapped from eternity"). In the somber "Fallen Star" Cordero kicks back in a lawn chair and gazes into the sky pondering the fate of a lost loved one ("I've been thinkin 'bout you/Wondering where the hell you are up there").

The folksy "Daydreamer" finds Cordero attempting to escape from reality ("Cause I can't wait for bedtime/To see what my fate holds") featuring some hot guitar licks from Reid T. Dillon and Jim Hoke on harmonica. The closing "...Meantime" extols the virtue of patience ("That cup of aged red wine tastes so much better/When you sit back and watch them grapes grow on the vine") with Hailey Whitters on harmony vocals.

With tasteful production by Jack Gear, recorded at Nashville's Sound Emporium Studio A established by Jack Clement in 1969, "Welcome to Countryland" is entertaining throughout and further establishes Cordero as a singer/songwriter.

CDs by Flatland Cavalry

Wandering Star, 2023 Welcome to Countryland, 2021

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