Diving into Flatland Cavalry’s new album Homeland Insecurity was like meeting up with old friends and not wasting any time catching up on what matters most. There’s 11 tracks, stories, experiences…call them what you’d like. These tunes pour out harsh realities, the growth of relationships, pieces of wisdom gained and some questions that are frankly still looking for answers.
1. Come Back Down (Cleto Cordero)
2. Honeywine (Cleto Cordero)
3. Old School (Cleto Cordero/Reid Dillon)
4. Other Side of Lonesome (Cleto Cordero)
5. Back To Me (Cleto Cordero/Reid Dillon)
6. Living by Moonlight (Cleto Cordero/Kaitlin Butts)
7. Ashes (Cleto Cordero)
8. Lonely Then (Cleto Cordero/Kaitlin Butts)
9. Pretty Women (Cleto Cordero)
10. Sleeping Alone (Cleto Cordero)
11. Years From Now (Cleto Cordero)
I’ve been cheering on the band for some years now and have been right there as a fan anxiously awaiting a new record since 2016’s Humble Folks. For those hoping for the familiar “easy on the ears, heavy on the heart” approach from the band, I’m happy to assure you that this album is that plus much more. “Everything I’d written before, it was always just something I had to get out. It was always spurred on by an emotion, but that doesn’t mean the lyrical side was rich,” says bandleader Cleto Cordero. “I have to really say something. Everything has to be purposeful.” While there’s much consistency in the songwriting and Flatland Cavalry’s unique sound, this new project produced by Scott Faris, is fine-tuned and like a leather canvas, has new tooled details perfected and stained with purpose by its makers. It took time and new explorations to create these songs. And the result is quite a polished collection.
Concert attendees will immediately recognize and fall in love with the studio version of “Come Back Down”, a hometown invitation that the band has been playing live for the last year or so. Cordero has shared that the inspiration to write this one came from feeling the impact of time after a visit back home to see his folks. Similarly, “Old School”, a smooth western anthem Cordero co-wrote with Reid Dillon (electric guitar), gives the listener further insight into the influence of family and Texas style declaring “tried and true ain’t leavin’ soon or goin’ out of style so march around in your cowboy boots, a swagger, and a smile” and my favorite line “Mom and Pop’s love’s still runnin’ like that ‘82 Chevrolet…”
The songs “Honeywine”, “Back to Me” and “Ashes” offer lyrical pieces of puzzled vulnerability, wonder, and romance while the track “Lonely Then” co-written with singer-songwriter Kaitlin Butts punches with surprising redemptive confidence. The pieces in the songs fit together and they stay with you. These two lines in “Back to Me” have me inspired to see where they fit into my own life’s puzzle and perhaps will do the same for you.
“What keeps you grounded when you want to fly?
What keeps your motor running when you feel it’s gonna die?”
Beyond the classic sounds of electric guitar riffs and heavy fiddle, there’s also haunting depth to Flatland’s record like we haven’t experienced before. The desolate night howls of “Sleeping Alone” and the recently released “Living by Moonlight” further spotlight the tough trials as a traveling musician. Without a doubt, the track that chilled our bones the most is “Pretty Women”. A waltz that’s triple times sad, honest, and beautiful. The imagery and sound will have your feelings spinning around and around beyond the dancefloor with poetic lyrics. It’s our *PICK* of the album and one we cannot wait for you to hear.
“Some pretty women are just really sad little girls
Tying up their problems with ribbons and stringing their hurt up with pearls
She must be forgiven
Oh Lord, she’s living in her own little world
Some pretty women are just really sad little girls”
“Years from Now” was the perfect end to the reunion that was this album. This track picks up the beat and looks forward to what’s to come and who’s to be. Cordero offers hope that together we’ll “laugh about the hard times and relive the glory days”. But, for now, he says there’s more to figure out and places to see with self-accepting lines such as “I don’t know what love is all about, I don’t hope soon but some time years from now…”
My hat’s off to this Lubbock crew…I’m so content to see the values of the band’s sound and style continue to stay the same, just like that old friend you hope never changes despite age. Such consistency is further contributing to a solid brand and quality that is uniquely their own. However, it’s evident in this record that these guys have evolved as a lyricist and musicians and that growth will only continue. “I had a lot I wanted to say,” says Cordero. “I knew there was a better way of saying it. I didn’t want to write at the same pace I was at during Humble Folks. And I don’t want to write at this pace in the future.”
Homeland Insecurity drops this tomorrow, Friday, January 18th and Flatland Cavalry is celebrating with two releases parties this weekend in Fort Worth and Corpus Christi so be sure and grab those tickets. Put another score on the board for the Humble Folks, this new album was well worth the wait!
Check out the band’s current single “Honeywine” on our Spotify playlist below.
Editorial contributor for Texas Music Pickers and a whole-hearted collector of Texas/Red Dirt tunes and the stories behind them. You can also find me on the dance floor.