After nearly twenty years of performing, Oklahoma’s Travis Linville has performed worldwide from dive bars to festivals to YouTube music shows to television appearances on CMT and The Tonight Show. Stepping to the front of the stage with his country-and-blues-tinged indie folk, Linville is set to release Up Ahead February 3, 2017.
To support his constantly evolving skill as a songwriter, Linville enlisted the help of studio musicians who have also performed with him live. David Leach (John Fullbright) joins on upright bass, Ryan Jones (Oklahoma Opry) plays keys, and two diverse percussionists round out the sound: Matt Duckworth (Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus) and Mike Meadows (Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson). Linville himself performed all vocals, guitars, lap steel, pedal steel, mandolin, and dobro. The result is a well-crafted piece of art in the form of a ten-song trip down a country lane.
Listeners can almost smell the “Flowers in Your Hair,” smelling the rain as it falls in some skilled mandolin from Linville. Working subtly, the lyricism has a folk Americana flair. Shifting to a more indie feel, “Wishes” still paints with vivid cinematic imagery: authentic and real. Linville is a skilled multi-instrumentalist who is great at pulling in other talents: Jones steps in on keys during “Two Times the Fool,” pulling the stroll into an introspection that everyone can relate to. Nearly halfway through the album, mid-tempo road trip “Finding My Way” is driven more by bass, percussion, and slide guitar.
Country influences are king on “Bar Room,” as the sly humor of Linville’s songwriting is blatantly cool here. You can almost smell the stale beer and sawdust on the floor. The birth of some great music took place in the dingy places, and this song has that East Texas drawl. A great songwriter makes the listener feel, and “Fade to Winter” is a great transition. Sequencing and an intelligent mix makes this song a stronger statement than maybe it started out as lyrically.
“Up Ahead” is the title track for a reason. It encompasses all elements of this musician, from his influences to his experiences: Okie music is influenced strongly by all genres from Texas country to the Nashville sound. This is a beautiful way to start wandering down the road out of this album. “Waltz Ahead” is a slow dance, plain and simple–and that is its beauty. It is is the only song in three quarter time on the album, making it stand out with even more emphasis. Taking that stand-out quality to the next level, “Going Down Easy” is a showcase of musicianship with a solid blues vibe. “Worried Mind” caps off this acclaimed solo release.
Rich with textures, Up Ahead is a soulful and authentic sensory journey of an everyman with a guitar. After this release, listeners will hear the beauty of his truth standing in the spotlight. Get a copy today.–Lisa Whealy