Carlos Washington’s Steel Horse Swing releases new LP
Powered by a vibrant acoustic strumming and some fiddle-born twang that could make a country fan out of anyone, Carlos Washington’s Steel Horse Swing isn’t playing games with his audience in the title track of his new album Little Bit of Texas; on the contrary, he’s asserting himself as one of America’s last true cowboy crooners, which is definitely something fans of this genre should be getting excited about this March. While the title cut in Little Bit of Texas is one of the LP’s most gripping numbers, it isn’t the only gem worth writing home about in this ten-song tracklist. Carlos Washington is determined to give us everything he’s got in this record, and it’s resulted in one of the most accessible indie country albums of the last year.
As his moniker suggests, Carlos Washington is all about celebrating the grooves of an old school country swing, and that’s made more than evident to us in songs like “The King of Western Swing,” “House of Blue Lights,” “I Am a Cowboy Y’all” and even the gentle album-opener “I Can Still Make Cheyenne.” All of these tracks tell us as much of a story through their righteous rhythms as they do the cowboy poetry Washington fashions into verses, and there are even some instances – such as “Miss Molly,” for example – where the beat produces more of a textured presence in the mix than any of the melodic instrumentation does. Soundboard frills can definitely make certain aspects of a song pop more than they would in their natural state, but it doesn’t take an expert critic to observe just how organic all of the fireworks are in this LP.
Washington has a wonderful voice, and the warmth of his singing undeniably makes “It Was Love at First Swing,” “My Little Red Wagon” and “I’m Coming Home” the undisputed crown jewels of Little Bit of Texas. There’s nothing forced about his execution, and by all accounts he never gives us any reason to believe that his heart and soul isn’t invested in the narrative he’s trying to get across to us. Carlos Washington doesn’t have to put a lot of extra fluff into his music to ensure that we’re getting the point – all he needs is a steady groove and some rustic melodies; his lead vocal takes care of the rest.
If you like classic country and western music as much as I do, Carlos Washington’s Steel Horse Swing has created an album in Little Bit of Texas that should be considered required listening this spring. Washington doesn’t sell his audience short when it comes to dishing out some of the most memorable country rhythms you’re going to find on this side of the dial this year, and though he’s got a couple of rough edges that some mainstream critics might break-down differently than I have, I for one think they’re what define his sound as the distinctive treasure it is. I’ll be looking forward to more, and I doubt I’m the only one saying so right now.