Texas music songwriter and performer John Baumann is the latest to receive a big opportunity and an adrenaline shot in the royalty department via a big mainstream country name. Announced as part of the rollout of Kenny Chesney’s upcoming album Songs For The Saints out July 27, John Baumann has revealed his song “Gulf Moon” was selected to be one of the album’s 12 tracks. “I am honored, stunned and grateful,”Baumann said about the distinction. “Never quit on your dreams. There is always hope.”
John Baumann is a songwriter with a strong voice and clear conscience that has enabled him to cut through to the hearty details of life that impact us all. His releases have all been critically acclaimed and he continues to grow his audience. He writes songs that make you think and move you in some way. His music is unique, special and different in all the best ways. Baumann’s latest release, Proving Grounds, finds him making good on the positive claims of his previous efforts.
If you’re gonna invoke the hallowed likes of Terry Allen, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore by name in a song, citing them all as formative influences on your own writing, you damn well better measure up and have something worthwhile to say. The same goes for any singer-songwriter not named Dylan (or Hancock, for that matter) who insists on stretching a song out to nine minutes, at least without the formidable backup of the E Street Band and an arena full of fervent converts predisposed to welcoming that kind of indulgence.
One of the reasons Texas country is outpacing Nashville at the moment from both the level of quality and infectiousness in the music is because of the latitude Texas artists are afforded to explore their influences and develop a sound that’s all of their own. You might think that Music Row labels will release just about any damn thing and call it country, but it still must adhere to a dedicated formula for what they know will sell, and artists are given little to no leeway when it comes to expressing themselves outside the norms.
Texas country and Red dirt, despite all of the many influences and sounds, still really comes down to two sides, just like its Nashville counterpart–there’s more of an equal playing field in Texas and Oklahoma, and that’s ultimately the difference, but the point is, you still have your serious, singer-songwriter types and your more pragmatic, commercial types.
On the first three releases of his career, Texas songwriter John Baumann displayed, more than anything, potential. He was a young, budding storyteller who morphed into characters who were familiar, sometimes flawed, but endearing nonetheless. You knew them because you’d met them at whichever Texas school you were attending. He described regional affairs and painted vivid landscapes with a vast understanding. He went off exploring with West Texas Vernacular, High Plains Alchemy, and Departures.
On his latest release Proving Grounds (released June 9), John Baumann honors the Mount Rushmore of Texas country songwriters within the first few lines of album-opener “Here I Come.” In the song, Baumann names The Flatlanders – Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore – and Terry Allen among the Texas troubadours who lead the Amarillo-born Baumann to songwriting.