Dallas Burrow’s story is a familiar one, although, like each case, the details are different. He was a rough and rowdy fella living the life of a traveling musician and had achieved modest success. His 2019 debut album, Southern Wind, recorded in Nashville, reached number four on the US Alt-Country chart and number 25 on the UK Americana chart. Then he found the love of a good woman, had a kid, and settled down to a life of domestic happiness. His self-titled new album features songs about the joys of family life.
Burrow states this clearly on the confessional “Easter Sunday”. The Texas singer-songwriter sings with conviction, “I’ve done my fair share / Of rambling and running wild / Ain’t nothing in the world that compares / To a woman and a child.” The lyrics are simple and direct. They achieve their power through Burrow’s delivery. He sounds like he’s got gravel in this throat and needs to spit out the lyrics. There’s something aching to escape. That’s not because he’s in pain. The opposite seems to be true. He feels the need to proclaim his joy at finding what he didn’t even know what he was looking for. He begins the album with the sweet “Country Girl” to honor the woman who saved him.
Of course, with hindsight, Burrow should have known what he was headed for all along. On the album’s most poignant track, “Father’s Son”, he tells the story of his dad and whose life he mirrors. His dad was a hippie musician who traveled the same roads as Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark before getting a girl pregnant and then settled down to raise a family. (The album’s last track, “Outlaw Highway”, contains some of his father’s lyrics.) Burrow notes that while he loves his mother, he is just like his pa.
Burrow’s recorded the album at the home studio of another Texas singer-songwriter, Bruce Robison (“Travelin’ Soldier”, “Wrapped”, “Angry All the Time”) on two-inch analog tape in a series of live performances. Robison produced the record. Burrows was accompanied by a slew of notable Lone Star side players, including bassist Sterling Finlay (Todd Snider), guitarist Larry Chaney (Steve Earle), pianist Kullen Fox (Charley Crockett, Paul Cauthen), violinist Bryan Duckworth (Robert Earl Keen), steel guitarist and dobro player Dan Johnson (Hank III), slide guitarist Chad Pope (Dale Watson), pedal steel guitarist Cody Angel (Jason Boland), drummer Josh Blue (Bruce Robison’s band), and guitarist Chris Kues (Burrow’s touring lineup).
The autobiographical songs are the most successful, but not all 14 tracks come from Burrow’s experiences. He puts his tales into a larger context on cuts such as the sultry “Born Down in Texas”, the anthemic “American Dream”, and carnivalistic “Independence Day” to show how we are all searching for love even when we don’t know it. The story songs about street hustlers, the beauty of nature, and such have their charms but lack the combination of humor and gravitas that make his first-person narratives compelling. Burrow’s best when looking inward. No wonder he named the record after himself.