Rayland Baxter has returned with ‘Imaginary Man’, an album of way-out Americana with a dreamlike quality befitting of its title
maginary Man is the second album by Nashville songwriter Rayland Baxter. Recorded in his hometown and featuring his father (veteran session musician Bucky Baxter who has played with the likes of Bob Dylan, REM and Ryan Adams) on pedal steel, the record shows just how broad a genre Americana can be.
It opens with the deliciously funky bassline of Mr. Rodriguez, an imagined day spent with the legendary musician Sixto Rodriguez who tells our protagonist “it’s your turn to be king”. On the acoustic and fragile Rugged Lovers, Baxter fantasises about relationships going the distance, an unobtainable craving at odds with life on the road. Perhaps it is these pretend moments which give the album its title.
Other highlights are Yellow Eyes (listen below) and Freakin Me Out. The crisp guitars on the former punctuate Baxter’s melancholy, lifting his spirits and filling him with hope as he declares “Now it’s time I get to find my own way”. Freakin Me Out is the morning lament of the still tipsy, packed with fanciful imagery and angst, a sloppy rhythm and distorted guitar the only company still worth keeping.
From start to finish, Imaginary Man comes across as a daydreamed journey across America, both hazier and more colourful than your average country album. It is a trip that is worth taking.
Verdict: Americana with a distinctive twist