Artist to Watch: Rob Baird

Rob Baird was born in Memphis, got educated in Fort Worth, developed his songwriting in Nashville and was reborn in Austin.

With songwriting heroes like Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson, Baird tackles country with a decidedly Americana attitude. And it's a good thing.

Unlike his heroes, the 28-year-old Baird decided he'd had enough of Nashville after signing to Carnival Music and releasing I Swear It's The Truth in 2012. Baird had a home at the label and publishing company founded by fellow Texan Frank Liddell until he decided he "had no interest in competing with the country-pop stars and trying to dance around."

Now he's ready to release Wrong Side Of The River, "a 10-track gut punch of blues-drenched, storyteller-crisp autobiography derived from chasing miles of dreams." The project's first song, "Ain't Nobody Got A Hold On Me," showcases Baird's ability to be subtle about his own situation through an elaborate metaphor and thoroughly un-minced words.

He's been building his fanbase throughout the Southeast and Texas. With a refocused goal and a new album finished out of a north Austin garage, Rob Baird has a shot to tackle Texas and beyond with a sound he's proud of.

He sounds like: A cross between Jason Isbell and Randy Rogers with a smoother voice.

Key track: "Aint' Nobody Got A Hold On Me" is his first new track since leaving Nashville and clever metaphor weaving a familiar tale with his personal experiences.

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Artist to Watch: Rob Baird