Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Calvin Rainwater, a proud Arizona native who is preparing to release his latest studio endeavor, a six track country EP that he stresses is ‘real country.’ This, of course, means that Rainwater is striving for a more authentic, rootsy sound. That’s something the mainstream country scene has avoided for some time now in favor of pop music with a twang, and thus, true fans of the genre may find these new tunes quite refreshing.
Right out of the gate, one will immediately notice Rainwater’s gruff, deep voice that’s absolutely perfect for the type of music he’s releasing. He’s accented further by a slick, well-produced sound with stellar instrumental performances. The poignant ‘If We Could Go Fishin’ One More Time,’ for example, is a terrific excursion through Rainwater’s brand of personal country. Rainwater’s ode to his late father is beautiful, and ‘If We Could Go Fishin’ One More Time’ is wonderfully genuine.
Rainwater’s continued jaunt through frank, but nevertheless lovely personal lyricism continues on ‘God Sent Me An Angel.’ “Lord there’s just no forgiving myself,” Rainwater croons on the track. “God sent me an angel, and I drug her through hell.” This, I’d argue, is the beauty of what Rainwater calls ‘real’ country: it’s a different form of blues music. (Which is why artists like Ray Charles, for example, traversed that divide from time to time.)
‘Sinners And Saints’ houses some of Rainwater’s best lyricism in this set of songs. Tinges of gospel influence and outlaw country stylings are very apparent on the tune, and Rainwater stands tall on ‘Saints And Sinners’ as a particularly insightful wordsmith. ‘Chloey Marie’ feels less polished, and this may be due to it being the oldest of the tracks, but it’s a nice ballad nonetheless. (Rainwater’s vocals and instrumentation feel more natural in his more recent creations, but this terrific tribute to his daughter is very worth spinning all the same.)
‘Tonight I Told My Dreamgirl Goodbye’ is a song that sounds like it’s right out of the classic country songbook. Hank Williams Sr. could have sung this song with conviction, and that’s a high compliment. Rainwater also includes ‘The Boulevard’ on the EP, a collaboration with Dave Patterson in support of veterans who suffer from PTSD and homelessness. It’s an excellent track, one that will hopefully drive some awareness and funds toward the issues its championing. (It's a fully nonprofit track.)
Calvin Rainwater’s upcoming EP is one of the better country releases I’ve heard in the independent scene in the last twelve months. It’s very much worth your time, and I’d keep close tabs on Rainwater’s music moving forward, too.