Flatlands In Culberson County: When A Sound Belongs To A Place And A Place Belongs To A Sound

I’ve spent a good chunk of today listening to Red Shahan’s Culberson County album, which came out last year. It has been on repeat, and repeat, and repeat. It has a desolate, isolated sound that is somehow comforting and concerning at the same.

I’ve listened to a coupel Shahan albums in the past, but never did a deep dive, despite enjoying what I had heard. I knew who he was, had a few songs in my best of and that was that.

About the fifth time through Culberson County today, I realized I had a hankerin’ to go back and listen to Ryan Culwell’s Flatlands. Culwell was an “opener” discovery a few years back. He was opening for someone else I was seeing. I like to do the prep work for openers before the show. He was opening for Hayes Carll that night. This was in June of 2015, so his Flatlands album was just out. I liked it. After seeing him live that night, I loved it. He stole the show that night at Off Broadway.

Always go to the show…

Flatlands had that bare, remote sound. I had dug deep on Culwell, and knew that solitude sound made sense when you see he is from the Texas panhandle. The spacious land lends itself heavily to the wide open soundscape of that album.

So, back to Shahan’s Culberson County album. It had me picturing the panhandle throughout, or maybe the Ozarks on occasion. I’m from Podunk, IL, population me; I had no clue if Culberson County was fictitious or real, so I head to ol’ google. It exist. In West Texas. Because of course it does.

So now I want to sit in a dark room with a glass of whiskey and listen to these two albums back-to-back. The playlist is 1 hour, 24 minutes. There is a movie somewhere in the music. It probably stars Walton Goggins.

So what say you? Do you have companion albums you picture as a perfect pairing for a lonely evening to share a glass of whiskey with you and you alone?


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