Perryton, Texas is a town in the Panhandle that barely scratches the 7,000-people mark. Singer-songwriter Ryan Culwell grew up there, but it took distance to truly get a grasp on its geography–emotional, spiritual, and physical. He worked a number of odd-jobs in Nashville before returning to songwriting, culminating in this year’s Flatlands. “I couldn’t make this kind of music in Texas,” he told Rolling Stone earlier this year, alluding to the fact that his bare-bones ramblings don’t exactly make for good honky-tonk listening. The songs on Flatlands are sobering portraits of life and loss, mirroring the hardscrabble Panhandle.
On “I Think I’ll Be Their God,” Culwell’s messy relationship with his hometown comes into full focus. A series of characters proudly speak their worldly intentions–religion, love, money–but the song’s dark atmosphere hints that life isn’t as easy or simple as a declaration. Download the song below.