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Austin360 On The Record: The Flatlanders are back with first album in 12 years

The Flatlanders (L-R): Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists. 

New releases

Flatlanders, “Treasure of Love” (Rack ’Em/Thirty Tigers): It’s been 12 years since Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock put out a new record together, but that’s a blink of an eye for the Flatlanders, who went more than a quarter-century between their 1972 debut and its 1999 follow-up. That gap led the trio of lifelong friends from Lubbock to be labeled “more a legend than a band.” Since then, though, they’ve been more band than legend, releasing a handful of new and archival albums that have further cemented their status as one of the most important acts in the history of Texas music.

Ely says this album “evolved” more than it was consciously made, largely because its 15 tracks were recorded at various times over the past decade, without any real plan for assembling them. The pandemic provided an opportunity to revisit the material. Ely enlisted Lloyd Maines to co-produce and add various instrumental tracks; Ely’s wife, Sharon, also gets an assistant producer credit here, for her help in sorting through the various studio sessions that produced the basic tracks.

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All three Flatlanders are revered as songwriters, and on their more recent records, they’d done quite a bit of collaborative writing. “Treasure of Love” takes a different approach, consisting mostly of tunes they’ve played in concert for years but had never recorded. Several come from fellow Texans, including Townes Van Zandt’s “Snowin’ on Raton,” Mickey Newbury’s “Mobile Blues” and Ernest Tubb’s “I Don’t Blame You.”

Others draw from the catalogues of American masters. Bob Dylan was an early touchstone for the trio, dating back to the days they lived together in a Lubbock house in the early 1970s; the enigmatic “She Belongs to Me” feels like a perfect fit for the mystical qualities of Gilmore’s voice. Hancock takes the lead vocal on Johnny Cash’s “Give My Love to Rose,” tapping into the Man in Black’s empathy for the human condition. The title track comes from the songbook of George Jones; it’s worth noting that the tune was co-written by J.P. Richardson, aka the Big Bopper, who went down in the 1959 plane crash that took the trio’s hometown idol Buddy Holly.

Even on what’s largely an interpretive album, there’s no getting around the depth and breadth of Hancock’s songbook, so it’s not a surprise that three of his tunes are included. Ely sings the album-opening “Moanin’ of the Midnight Train” (which Hancock first recorded on a lesser-known mid-’90s solo album) and “Ramblin’ Man,” a tune Gilmore had previously cut on one of his own records. Hancock sings the new “Mama Does the Kangaroo” himself; its playful nature suggests he could do an album of children’s music if he wanted. Ely slips in one original as well, a rollicking ode to a mysterious woman named Hannah and her “Satin Shoes.”

Lead vocals are almost perfectly split between the three members, with Ely and Gilmore handling five each and Hancock taking four. They all sing a verse on “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” a lively 20th-century classic recorded by bluegrass great Jimmy Martin and others that has been the Flatlanders’ go-to show-closer for years and thus fittingly concludes the album. Here’s the official video for that track:

Pat Byrne, “Into the Light”: We reviewed this album a couple of weeks ago when Byrne issued early copies of the disc at a local record release show, but this week it gets full digital release on all major streaming platforms. Playing Aug. 26 at Guero’s for Sun Radio’s “Texas Radio Live.” Here’s the title track:

Giovanni Carnuccio III, “A Matter of Time”: At seven tracks running 26 minutes, this avant garde instrumental release falls somewhere between an EP and a full-length album. Musically, it’s adventurous stuff that centers on drums (Carnuccio’s primary instrument), with elements of everything from psychedelia to flamenco working their way into the mix. Here’s the video for “Ages of Pages”:

Dossey, “Animal” EP: This week sees the release of “Electric,” the last in a series of singles the local indie-pop artist has been putting out since the summer of 2020. They’re now compiled on this EP, which, according to materials announcing its release, is “Sarah Dossey's response to feeling misunderstood and beaten down by the music industry's expectations of a pop star.” Here’s the title track:

Coming soon

JULY 16: Midland, “The Last Resort” EP (Big Machine

JULY 16: Danilo, “All I Want” EP, release show July 17 at Far Out Lounge

JULY 17: Roky Erickson tribute album, “May the Circle Remain Unbroken” (Light in the Attic)

JULY 17: Christine Renner, “Heartbreaker” EP, release show July 17 at Empire

JULY 23: Robert Harrison, “Watching the Kid Come Back,” release show July 30 at 3Ten

JULY 23: Molly Burch, “Romantic Images” (Captured Tracks), playing Sept. 21 at Mohawk

JULY 23: Dallas Burrow, self-titled, release show July 23 at Sagebrush

JULY 30: Nobody’s Girl, self-titled (Lucky Hound), release show July 29 at Long Center Terrace

JULY 30: Jesse Daniel, “Beyond These Walls”

AUG. 10: Mike & the Moonpies, “One to Grow On”

AUG. 13: Jade Bird, “Different Kinds of Light” (Glassnote)

AUG. 13: Bruce Hughes, “Sweet Children”

AUG. 20: James McMurtry, “The Horses and the Hounds” (New West)

AUG. 27: Shinyribs, “Late Night TV Gold,” release show Aug. 27 at Paramount Theatre

AUG. 27: Alejandro Escovedo, “La Cruzada”

AUG. 27: Blk Odyssy, “Blk Vintage,” playing Oct. 10 at ACL Fest

AUG. 27: Bob Schneider, “In a Room Full of Blood With a Sleeping Tiger”

AUG. 27: Altin Sencalar, “Reconnected” (Next Level), release show Aug. 27 at East Austin Piano Shop

AUG. 27: Suzanne Santo, “Yard Sale,” release show Aug. 26 at Antone’s.

SEPT. 10: Heartless Bastards, “A Beautiful Life” (Unknown/Thirty Tigers)

SEPT. 17: Rod Gator, “For Louisiana” (Blue Elan)

More from Austin360 On The Record:

JULY 2:Mr. Linen, Emily Wolfe, Ley Line

JUNE 25:Pat Byrne, Surfaces

JUNE 18:New music from Magna Carda, SaulPaul, more