Flatland Cavalry compares his new LP “Welcome to Countryland” to a country music themed amusement park

“I believe in songwriting, and if there’s a message to share, say it,” Cleto Cordero told American Songwriter over the phone. He talks about his band, Flatland Cavalry’s third album, Welcome to the countryside—Released July 2nd. “And when you put them all together, it’s like a collage, and the gravity of the songs will attract those who want to be together. I started to get this feeling of a mosaic of different forms of country music.

Based in both Texas and Nashville, Flatland Cavalry is made up of Cordero (vocals, acoustic guitar), Jason Albers (drums, backing vocals), Jonathan Saenz (bass, backing vocals), Reid Dillon (electric guitar), Wesley Hall (violin) ) and Adam Gallegos (piano, keys, mandolin, banjo).

Recorded at the famous Sound Emporium in Nashville, Welcome to the countryside also includes special guest musicians Spencer Cullum (steel guitar), Jim Hoke (harmonica, harp harp) and Billy Justineau (B3 organ) as well as backing vocals from Kaitlin Butts.

Since its inception in 2012, Flatland Cavalry has toured relentlessly across the country, building a passionate fan base as it went. In addition to several titles, they have also recently joined artists such as Luke Combs, Midland, Hailey Whitters and Jameson Rodgers on the road.

“We’ve been traveling as a band the last few years, seen all over this country, I think it shows in the music,” Cordero said. “Country music is everywhere here, but it doesn’t all sound the same. So here’s our take on all the sounds we picked up on the road, what we believe to be country music. Listen and you get a shadow of everything along the way.

Plain Cavalry Welcome to the countryside | Deadline July 2, 2021

“I was really a little shy, my first co-writing was with Hayes Carll,” Cordero admits. “I’ve never met him, but I’ve listened to his records and I’m a huge fan. But by connecting with someone, you find common ground, and that’s where the songs come from.

The co-writing of this project, especially remotely, opened up new creative channels within the artist. The newfound confidence arose from working on computer screens, desperately seeking a human connection. The songs he once considered outliers found their way into the town that composed Welcome to the countryside.

“What good is a song that didn’t come about because you were too proud to show it to someone?” he asks rhetorically. “You can sit there all day and try to write a Honky Tonk song or something that fits a certain style. I think I really grew up working with so many collaborators, absorbing it like a sponge.

During Cordero’s honeymoon in October, the band had yet to title their next album. While listening he was struck by the last verse of the song “Well Spent Time” –Lying under a blanket of stars / In the countryside.

“I was like ‘this is what it is’,” Cordero said. “It’s how much we think of country music.”

Across 14 tracks, Flatland Calvary’s new album welcomes an impressive cast of creators who, taken together, are a vibrant representation of country music.

Singles like “Life Without You (feat. Kaitlin Butts)”, written with Brian Keane, and “Some things never change,” with Ava Suppelsa, helped unveil the concept of the album.

“A cowboy knows how”, is the only song Cordero has not contributed to as a writer. Instead, he entrusted the capable hands of Luke Combs, Dan Isbell and Jonathan Singleton to create a story that fits into their larger concept. The familiar whine of the steel pedal evokes conflicting nostalgia. And the Texan spirit of each member of the group joins the archetypal cowboy character of the subject.

“Off Broadway” addresses the catch-all concept of Americana. Cordero wrote it on the bus in Saint-Louis and “had been on the road too long”. Impregnated with nostalgic blues, the two verses are inspired by a “not very beautiful” district of the city. Without a chorus, the song uses a B section dynamically, experimenting with new song forms.

Kris Kristofferson and John Prine’s lasting influence on folk storytelling is found through tracks like “Fallen Star”. “Dancin ‘Around A Fire,” claims their signature southern rock star. Likewise, “No ace in the hole” co-written with Jason Albers and his bandmate, Reid Dillon, immediately locks themselves into a groove. Dillon, whose influence is in the field of rock n ‘roll, shone through this piece on the electric guitar. But Wells’ violin anchored him in the country sphere. The result, he says, “feels like bandito country, like you’re driving through Nevada or Badland Country.” This land in the west is so vast.

The defining opening track, “Country Is” and the closest, “… Meantime” (feat. Hailey Whitters), emanates a scintillating country sound that comes full circle. Jake Gear, whom Cordero considers “the mastermind” behind the track list, felt that “Country Is” sounded like a well-fitting opening statement. Composed with Palomino, the punk-tinged track sets the tone for the collection: “This is what we think”.

Cordero met his “… Pending” co-writer Lainey Wilson on Zoom. She chewed on an idea that immediately resonated with the artist.

“Everyone in America, all over the world, felt like a duck sitting down, wondering what was going to happen? Cordero said. “The answer is, I don’t know. But let’s not anticipate ourselves and be anxious. Why not just take advantage of what we can of the present.

After modulating the song for a more “glorious” feel, Whitters’ harmonies add lightness to an already uplifting message. Ending on a positive note, “… Meantime” evokes the joy that has felt lost for much of the past year.

“I am very grateful that the record is stuck between two classic pillars,” Cordero said. “And everything else is something else. We went through something very hard together. But at home we didn’t just tweak our thumbs, we kept working on a craft, we kept doing the work we love and hope to share with others. Hopefully this is a wellness remedy for a very strange year. “

Listen to Flatland Cavalry’s new LP Welcome to the countryside, here. Check out the tour dates below. Tickets and more information available here.

Photo credit: Fernando Garcia

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