Carlos Washington’s Steel Horse Swing deliver Texas-style Melodicism
Full of swing and a Texas-style melodicism and poetic candor that is second to none in today’s country music genre, Carlos Washington’s Steel Horse Swing pull out all the stops to deliver one of the smartest new country songs of the year in “Little Bit of Texas.” “Little Bit of Texas” has a rather deceptive title; instead of breaking off just a small sampling of what the Lone Star lyrical wit can do for the soul on a hot summer day, Washington gives us a Texas-sized helping of everything that makes his home state the only country music capitol outside of Tennessee.
He has more than enough in common with the establishment’s most legendary artists to win over longtime country supporters, but truth be told, I wouldn’t classify him as a member of the ongoing revivalist revolution. This isn’t to say that he’s skewing alternative themes with country charm in this track, either; the reality is that, for an artist like Carlos Washington, classifying his strain of country music isn’t nearly as important as appreciating his compositional dexterities are. You don’t have to love Americana to get swept away by this song, but for those of us who do, it’s a diamond in the rough right now.
There’s nothing about “Little Bit of Texas” that I would describe as being over-stylized or campy. In fact, I think Washington seems to go out of his way to make even the most humble of verses in this song as unintimidating and down to earth as he can. His vocal is always the real star of the show, beyond anything that the Steel Horse Swing can produce on their own, but it doesn’t steal any of the thunder away from the collective harmony it leads so gallantly. The texture of the music is as important as any of the melodies are to understanding the emotional context of the narrative, and instead of lyrics serving as the lone bridge from artist to audience on this end, they’re but one of the stepping stones existing between the 0:00 and 3:41 marks.
Try as you might (and I’m sure most legit audiophiles will at any rate), you’re not likely to find another singer/songwriter in the country music realm quite like Carlos Washington this May. Washington’s band is tight as can be in “Little Bit of Texas,” but through the verses of their frontman, they’re elevated from a fun east Texas bar band to a full-blown country syndicate capable of accomplishing just about anything they put their minds to. There are still some elements in their sound that Washington can ultimately bend to suit whatever his vocal needs will be in the future, but for the time being, this is definitely a solid gold standard for them to live up to. I love when artists set the bar for themselves a little higher than most critics believe they can scale, because when artists like this one come around and break their own records, it makes the music all the sweeter.