Mando Saenz calls Texas his home state, and while his travels have taken him to many places, he obviously hasn’t forgotten the Lone Star State. Songs he’s co-written with artists like Stoney LaRue and Shelly Colvin have topped the Texas charts, while Lee Ann Womack and Jack Ingram have also covered his songs. On the Nashville side, Kim Richey’s new record features a co-write with Saenz that also appears on Saenz’s latest. Studebaker continues the good work he started on his two previous albums, Watertown and Bucket, improving on those two by bringing together his balladry and his rowdy side. Saenz’s songs are a smart blend of Texas and Nashville, made even more appealing by his friendly drawl. Nice touches fill Studebaker, from the harmonies that buoy “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like You Anymore” to the pedal steel and horns of “Smiles at the Door” to the dusty sprawl of “Colorado”. Saenz might not be a household name like some of his Texas or Nashville contemporaries, but he upholds the troubadour tradition in fine fashion.
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