Nashville, Tennessee musician rayLand Baxter is releasing his sophomore studio album Imaginary Man this weekend. Blending the personal expression and storytelling of folk with the sweeping strength of a full country band, the alternative country musician allows himself to become vulnerable and open up through his music on the new record.
From opening track “Mr. Rodriguez” to the final moments of the album closer “Temporary Queen of a Bad Time”, each member of the band adds a new section to the songs shape. But the shape of the music cannot be compared to some basic geometry, like a square or a circle, but more along the lines of an intricate, weaving, abstract form that dazzles the eye with each new look. Similarly, Baxter’s music constructs a captivatingly new paradigm with each listen.
Baxter explains, “To me, Imaginary Man is an audible record of my journey down the bright blue river of imagination. It is a multicolored dream of song, a sonic birdbath if you may. The sounds and songs are as visual as they are tactile and it shows a bit more of who I have become as an artist, as continual and never ending as that process is.”
Imaginative and tactile are appropriate descriptors for the album, with glossy guitars, swelling organs, and well-rounded percussion give a refreshing take on a timeless genre. If the expertly crafted sound of the accompanying band is not enough, the polished and rustic voice of Baxter (who sounds very close to Conor Oberst) certainly give the songs the final ingredient needed for the perfect recipe for spellbinding song writing.
Almost every track from Imaginary Man is dipped in emotion, whether it is feelings of nostalgia on “Mr. Rodriguez” or “Mother Mother”; love and passion for lead single “Yellow Eyes” or “Rugged Lovers”; there is an immeasurable amount of integrity and experience put into the album.
From heartfelt serenades, to rugged country rock tracks, to passionate folk expression, Imaginary Man is an album worth listening through its entirety. Start to finish, Baxter’s latest collection is a powerful journey across a beautiful track list. Stream the full album on Stereogum.