Byron Dowd is a singer and songwriter from Texas. He released his first album back in 2012, and soon after that took a break from music to raise his son. Now he has released a new EP titled High Road. This disc features all original material, written by Byron Dowd, showcasing his talent as a lyricist. The music is largely in the country realm, but with some folk influences as well. Joining him on this release are Milo Deering on fiddle, acoustic guitar, dobro, steel guitar and banjo; Larry Rolando on electric guitar and acoustic guitar; Kerry Huckaba on bass; George Anderson on upright bass; Tyler Withrow on acoustic guitar and vocals; Jay Brown on keys; Joe Mansir on percussion; and Josh Rodgers on percussion.
The EP opens with “A New Way,” which has a kind of sweet, lonesome, wistful feel when it begins. Byron Dowd sings, “And I know you don’t miss me/And you know that I feel the same way,” and there is just the right amount of ache in those lines. Immediately following those lines, the band kicks in. “As we grow older/With more weight to shoulder/Those dreams kind of slip by the side/No, life, it ain’t easy as it should be/It’s so often the case/It’s a pawn shop guitar/That won’t take you too far/When you play them old strings the same way.” And then when that fiddle comes in to take that short lead, ah yes, things are good. And later in the song the lines change to “A pawn shop guitar/It can take you real far/If you play them old strings a new way,” and that is a good way of looking at things now, isn’t it? Those are lines you can apply to whatever it is you have, and whatever it is you want to do. That song is followed by the EP’s title track, “High Road,” a song that offers advice from one generation to the next, connecting us all by experience. And there is something wonderfully comforting in the sound of this song, and in the lines “It won’t be easy, though it won’t last long/Keep the faith and family around/Stick to that high road, and I promise you/That the truth, it always finds its own way out.” Yes, this is a song we need now, and is one that is going to be a good companion in the coming weeks and months. It certainly isn’t easy to always take the high road, particularly these days when most of us have completely had it with a certain twisted faction in this country, and wish those people would just disappear. I have certainly failed multiple times, but this song provides a gentle and kind reminder to do our best to take the high road.
Byron Dowd then turns to more of a bluegrass sound at the beginning of “Raindrop.” There is something sweet about this song. There is warmth and cheer, making it another track that I appreciate. And it features some really good playing as well. And the lines about being seated in rocking chairs carry a certain optimism, even just in the idea that we’ll still be here, that we’ll live that long. “Many years from now/Glasses and grey hair/Lines on our faces from the laughs that we all shared/Sitting on the back porch, sipping beer.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Then “Gasoline” begins with some pretty work on fiddle, and soon kicks in to become a more serious and powerful number, telling a tale of justice, or vengeance, depending on your point of view, I suppose. Either way, “For your youngest daughter, she’s going to sleep real safe tonight.” The EP then concludes with “Millertone,” which establishes a happier, more pleasant tone at the beginning. This one recounts an interaction between a server and a musician, and is about connections, between people, and between people and musical instruments, and between the present and the past. And in the conversation, the musician learns something about his own instrument and its history.
CD Track List
- A New Way
- High Road
High Road was released on November 3, 2020 on Panther Creek Records.