Brazos Stone | Pleasurable Pain | CD Review

Brazos Stone is representative of Red Dirt bands of the southwest but definitely is not typical. Though the press has said they’re from Lubbock, Wichita Falls, and Ft Worth, they really all grew up in Throckmorton TX, a town of 800 people with a general store, a post office, two banks, a gas station, three cafes, and a private club. The town swells during fowl season as hunters flock to the region to shoot doves and other small birds. But I imagine a few of them manage to bag a wild hog once in awhile because those suckers scramble all over the west country, crossing back roads where hand-scribbled signs announce authentic hog barbeque. You have to watch what crosses in front of your truck on some of those back roads at night. And there are the wild camels that hunker down among the cattle in the open range outside of town. It’s a landscape ripe for storytelling, and a Red Dirt band is just the vehicle for it.

Red Dirt bands originated in Oklahoma, a land of gritty red soil. But in West Texas the genre took a different turn. Waylon Jennings had the Okie Red Dirt sound with a little of that Texas influence, while Willy Nelson dug his boot heels into Texas soil and churned out a mixed Texas sound. The genre is rooted in old country with dashes of Texas swing, gospel, and sometimes rock and roll.

Brazos Stone’s twist on the sound comes from its young members, who grew up on the genre and rock and roll, and added their own barbeque spice to the mix. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Brady Ash, is the son of a local rancher, who paid his dues working his father’s land. Joining him in the band are Bridget “Mingo” Briles on fiddle, Colby “R.C.” Schwartz on lead guitar, Monty “Smash” Scrogum on bass, and Drew “Pope” Moses on drums. They honed their chops on classic rock, Metallica, John Mayer, and original singer-songwriters like Patti Griffin and Steve Earle. You’d think that with that mix of musical tastes, they’d be more into indie rock or jam, but instead they fell back on their upbringing and decided to twist their daddy’s music into something their generation could relate to, bringing Red Dirt music into the 21st century.

R.C.’s and Mingo’s background vocals add depth to Brady’s strong lead voice, but it’s their guitar solos and fiddle textures that put the Brazos Stone brand on their music. It’s a mix of country and rock with a real danceable sound. But their thoughtful debut album Pleasurable Pain has songs like “Regret” and “Brazos Breeze” that show they can not only deliver a slow song but one with intelligent, sensitive lyrics. The latter reminds me of the writing of JJ Grey of Mofro, but Brady’s delivery is often a lot like Kurt Cobain, gut-felt and growly.

Brazos Stone’s newer songs will fill a dance floor in an eye blink. Yet, it’s solidly well-written material that is grounded in their earlier singer/songwriter trenches.

Check out Brazos Stone at www.brazosstonemusic.com