Country Is

Album: Welcome To Countryland (2021)
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  • Flatland Cavalry open their third album, Welcome To Countryland, with a testimony about their credibility as country musicians and the diversity of the genre. The West Texas sextet, led by Cleto Cordero, formed in Lubbock (the famed hometown of rock-and-roll legend Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley hitmaker Mac Davis) and became regional sensations with their traditional country instrumentation paired with catchy choruses. But are you a true country musician if you're not a horse-riding, Stetson-wearing, honky-tonk-playing white dude? Cordero, who claims his steel guitar paints his heart a shade of Cowboy Blue, replies in the second verse:

    Some folks say that ain't country
    Smile, let 'em in on the truth
    Don't rely on first impressions
    Country is what country means to you

    The band's perspective on country music broadened as they traveled outside of their native Texas. "Country music sounds a little different everywhere you go, and that makes sense," Cordero noted to Holler. "Those landscapes and people affect how country music sounds, but we're all really singing about the same things, which are often hard work and family."
  • Initially, this was about the classic sonics at the heart of country music like the steel guitar and fiddle, but the album's producer, Jake Gear, suggested that Cordero should push the concept further. Cordero recalled in a 2022 Songfacts interview: "Jake was, like, 'This is great, creative and cool, but you know what could be stronger is, what is country? What else is? That's what country sounds like, but what makes something country?' So, it isn't how you dress. It's not how you talk or your lingo or any of that stuff. It's some other intangible quality or some meekness."
  • Having this tune in their repertoire is helpful when the band meets naysayers on the road. Cordero told Songfacts: "Ironically enough, I met a guy out on the road when we played this small club. This guy was being real harsh to me and real crass and criticizing me because - and essentially, if I'm calling a spade a spade - he was judging me because of the color of my skin, and the way that he was coming at me was very unwelcoming and, 'You ain't country.' And I was thinking, 'Man, buddy, I've got a song I cannot wait for you to hear.'"
  • Cordero wrote this on a typewriter that his wife, Kaitlin Butts, gave him for Valentine's Day.
  • After recording their first two albums, Humble Folks (2016) and Homeland Insecurity, with producer Scott Faris at Amusement Park Studios in Lubbock, the band wanted a change of scenery to accommodate the bigger sound they were looking for on Countryland. They ended up in Nashville at Sound Emporium Studio A with Jake Gear (Hailey Whitters, Ryan Necci and The Buffalo Gospel).

    Drummer Jason Albers said of the move: "With our last two projects, we knew that room and setup. There's comfort in working with Scott. I think it was important to try and further expand with this album. Sonically, this album is definitely something bigger."


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