Less than two weeks before the release of his album Wide Awake, July 13th, Rayland Baxter has released a new single from the album. 79 Shiny Revolvers was the first song Rayland wrote during his three-month long isolation quest at Franklin, Kentucky’s secluded Thunder Sound Studios. He composed fifty songs there, ten of which eventually became Wide Awake.
79 Shiny Revolvers is a simple but powerful song and the video is equally simple using a line drawing theme, similar to his video for previous single, Strange American Dream. Although a simple video, it is mesmerising and the soulful and beautifully sang, song is in Rayland’s own estimation, one of the most important songs he’s ever written. Its lyrics burst with irony and cutting humor to interrogate his nation’s fixation on guns: “You really wanna save the world, man . Well, I wanna save it too. We can blow em away, the American way.”
Rayland says, “’79 Shiny Revolvers’ is a satirical and sensitive song about the shortcomings of our human race. I watch and I write, not only as an onlooker but as a participant. As the world continues to swing around the sun, I cannot help but notice that we are good people. However, our shortcomings have been highlighted by a long line of imperfect decisions. Leonard Cohen died the day I wrote this song.”
The previous two songs from Wide Awake have been earning praise, with the Nashville Scene raving, “if you don’t know Baxter, you’re in for a treat.” Casanova was named one of GQ’s Songs of the Summer 2018 and has been the #1 most added Americana single at radio for the past two weeks. Strange American Dream was heralded by NPR Music/World Café as “a piano driven ear worm of a song that sounds like a distant cousin to The Beatles’ Lady Madonna.”
There is no doubting that the lyrics on all three songs are extremely well written, and the songs are instantly appealing in their simplicity and sense of fun. It makes you wonder what the other 40 songs are like from this laid back troubadour, that did not make the cut.
Since he first started writing music, this roving rock ‘n’ roll philosopher dreamed of a space where he could devote every waking hour to creating. The hard-touring musician finally found it in the form of an abandoned rubber band factory in Franklin, KY, where he covered the windows, threw a mattress on the floor, and with guitar and piano in tow, spent three straight months writing. At night he would sit and listen to the sounds around him: coyotes, the howling wind, the faint prattle of the nightly TV news. The resulting Wide Awake celebrates the best aspects of humanity and grasps at understanding the worst.
“This is an album about decision making,” Baxter explains. “It’s about being a human at the crossroads. Do I do good or do I do evil? Do I lie or do I tell the truth? Am I going to be happy or am I going to be sad? All of these questions and emotions are things I see in myself, and they’re the same things I see in everyone else no matter where I go.”
Wide Awake was produced by Butch Walker and features Walker himself on bass, Cage the Elephant’s Nick Bockrath on guitar, Dr. Dog’s Erick Slick on drums, and piano wizard Aaron Embry (Elliott Smith, Brian Eno) on keys. Rayland’s father Bucky Baxter contributes pedal steel, as does original Nashville Cat Lloyd Green.