In a year where it has been easy to be dormant, John Baumann has been anything but.
Baumann began his year by introducing The Panhandlers, a Texas country supergroup with whom he had joined and released a debut, self-titled album to critical acclaim. Just three months later, he released his newest solo album Country Shade, which has earned nearly one million Spotify streams across its 12 tracks.
Now, just five months later, Baumann is back again with A/B Sessions, Vol. 1. Comprised of two tracks and reminiscent of vinyl single releases of yesteryear, Baumann picks up right where he left off with Country Shade and more; encapsulating everything we’ve come to love from his music into an excellent six and three-quarter minutes.
“Texas Dead” opens the release with a driving acoustic upbeat riff with pleasant fiddle layered throughout. As we have come to expect, Baumann sprinkles specificities and proper nouns into a song that feels like a prideful Texas anthem as he weaves his way through three verses with his signature rasp. With only a month passed since its release, “Texas Dead” is quickly closing in on 40,000 streams as of press time.
“I have been wanting to write my own plant-your-flag-in-the-ground song for my home state,” Baumann said in an interview with American Songwriter. “There are wrinkles all over the song that pay homage to Texas culture: the Lone Star Beer bottle caps riddle puzzles, the music of some of Texas’ finest songwriters, high school football and the dreaded ‘Oklahoma Drill,’ which actually ended my high school football career, and lastly, an ode to the oil that can be found in Texas that has changed the fortunes of so many people.”
Track two, “Tokyo Smile,” enters with a twanging electric guitar over a folky melody, accompanied by pleasant strings throughout. Discussing being singularly focused on returning to a loved one and not relying on coping mechanisms on the pursuit. It’s a soothing tale made even more relatable as we enter the holiday season and miss loved ones.
“’Tokyo Smile’ was a title I had and it just felt like an interesting combination of words, linguistically,” Baumann told American Songwriter. “I had this idea in my head of a guy flying across the world to see his girl, and the whole duration of the flight, he’s too excited to think or do anything else for that matter, he’s simply focused on that moment when they see each other.”
With A/B Sessions, Vol. 1 being the first taste of new music Baumann is set to release in 2021, he’s certainly made a great first impressions and already has us wanting more!
*Both songs are featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*