On the heels of The Marfa Tapes, a collaborative effort with fellow Texans Jack Ingram and Miranda Lambert, comes Jon Randall's first solo project in 15 years. The self-titled album (out Sept. 10) expands Randall's four-song Neon Texas EP from April.
While staying busy behind the scenes as one of Music City's most respected and sought-after producers and songwriters, Randall began coming up with song ideas that puzzle-pieced into a narrative about a topic in the back of most artists' minds: wanderlust.
"I hope this record is a good road trip record," Randall told Wide Open Country. "I wanted you to listen to it and feel like you were driving across Texas with me. That's what the underlying theme became."
A concept suitable for the return of touring and festivals predates the pandemic and almost reached our ears while responsible road tripping was completely off the table.
"I kind of accidentally made a record," Randall said. "I had a collection of songs over a period of a few years that just didn't belong anywhere else. But I was so busy making everybody else's records that when I could get a chance to go and record some things, I would until all of a sudden, I had this body of work. Then I didn't know really what I was going to do with it, to be honest. I was going to put it out right before the pandemic happened, before the first quarantine went down, but I was busy making [my wife] Jessi Alexander's record. So we put hers out and then I was going to put mine out, and then quarantine happened and all that craziness happened."
It's no coincidence that Randall finally set a date for the album's release after The Marfa Tapes project reintroduced him as one of Texas' most gifted country music exports.
"So I sat on it for a while, and then when we started working on the Marfa stuff, Miranda and Jack were both like, 'Man, you need to put some new music out because you're sitting on this record and a lot of people are going to kind of re-discover or discover you as an artist because you've been behind the scenes for so long,'" Randall added.
For Randall, The Marfa Tapes was a case of two good friends gently pushing him outside of his comfort zone.
"Coming off the heels of The Marfa Tapes does not hurt, but it also really inspired me because Miranda, she kind of forced me to step out front a little bit on that project," he explained. "I was a sideman for years, and then working behind the scenes in studios, I got kind of comfortable being the guy off to the side. Miranda and Jack both really inspired me to step up on this project, and it kind of gave me a little permission to put out my own record."
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Alexander, a well-rounded talent in her own right and the co-writer of some of Blake Shelton's biggest hits, further nudged her husband toward ending a 15-year solo album drought.
"This record never would have been made without her keeping a fire lit under me," Randall said. "'You need to go back in and cut some more stuff.' 'Keep that song.' She was executive producer, really, from the sidelines. But yeah, she inspires me every day. She's such a hard worker and a real amazing talent. Just watching her work ethic keeps me on my toes."
Randall's been busy since arriving in Nashville around 30 years ago, wearing such hats as an Emmylou Harris bandmate in the Nash Ramblers, a Lorrie Morgan duet partner and a go-to songwriting collaborator for Guy Clark, Dierks Bentley, Parker McCollum and countless others.
He's best-known (as a songwriter, at least) for helping pen "Whiskey Lullaby," a CMA award-winning Bill Anderson co-write cut by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, and Lambert's ACM award-winner "Tin Man," which resulted from a 2015 Marfa retreat with Ingram and Lambert. His latest solo flight brings us the Laurel Canyon folk-rock meets red dirt country vibes of "Streets of Dallas" and the ethereal feel of "Velvet Elvis Buzz."
Jon Randall Tracklist
1. "Keep on Moving" (Jon Randall)
2.. "Tequila Kisses" (Jon Randall / Jeff Middleton / Matthew Lane Fleener)
3. "Streets of Dallas" (Jon Randall)
4. "Driving to Mexico" (Jon Randall)
5. "Acapulco Blue" (Jon Randall)
6. "Girls from Texas" ft. Jack Ingram (Jon Randall / Shane McAnally)
7. "Ranchero" (Jon Randall)
8. "Velvet Elvis Buzz" (Jon Randall / Travis Meadows)
9. "The Road" (Jon Randall)
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