As much as any singer-songwriter out there, Greg Vanderpool’s music places you squarely in a time and place. To me, it’s a West Texas back porch, watching a distant thunderstorm roll in. Vanderpool named one of his previous bands Monahans for a reason. Though he comes from Dallas’ Deep Ellum scene, Vanderpool and his longtime collaborators keep his music full of desolate atmosphere and wide-open space. Vanderpool wears his influences proudly — Neil Young, Townes — but his style is unmistakable: undisguised narratives, a quiet and keen melodic intuition, and a voice that creaks with a lonesome beauty. Years tick by between Vanderpool releases. His earliest work, with his band Milton Mapes, kept a certain guitar menace at bay. Sub Raton, his first release since 2017’s Pilot, is his most restrained to date. In juxtaposition to our turbulent times, there’s a purposeful sense of slowing down and breathing in. His songs reveal romance and its wounded aftermath, and sound out desperation, a weary resignation, and ultimately a determination to keep going. “I’m counting the stars for you,” he sings, “And I’ll watch the night as long as it should linger.”
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Review by Jeff McCord