The South Austin Moonlighters “From Here To Home”

Independent, 2023

An album of rebirth and acknowledgement from stellar Austin foursome.

It’s often the case that when musicians find themselves really challenged that great music and a positive ethos ensue. That’s definitely what’s happened to The South Austin Moonlighters who, like all musicians, had their plans put on hold once the pandemic hit.

But this group are built of strong stuff and positivity and with a selection of songs they really believed in, together with a loyal fan-base and an envious DIY ethos, they took to starting a Kickstarter campaign and managed to get the resources to make this, their fourth release.

And what a joy it is – so worth their efforts to battle against the adversity they faced. They brought in the wonderful Steve Berlin from Los Lobos on production duties and made an album that journeys back to rediscover why they, as a band, started making music in the first place. It’s the only thing they wanted to do – make joyous music.

We open with ‘Nashville’, a blues-drenched, roots-rock number with superb raunchy guitar licks, accompanied by some gorgeous lead vocals and harmonies – stirring stuff. Next up is ‘Makin’ A Livin’’, the first single, about a musician trying to make a living for his family and the stress this causes. Lovely bass lines augment what’s a truly heartfelt song and another example of how good their guitar playing is.

The band compromises Lonnie Travino Jr on lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, piano; Chris Beall on lead vocals, acoustic & electric guitar; Daniel James on drums; and Hunter St Marie on acoustic, 12 string, electric and slide guitar. They’re joined by Daniel Creamer on keys; Fred Mandujano on drums; Jacob Hildebrand on guitar; and Anthony Farrell on keys.

You can tell how well they meld together and Berlin really does do a sterling job in bringing the spirit of their apparently blistering live act onto record. Beall says – “Steve’s so brilliant in the way he can navigate arrangements and production. He not only sees where the song is at, but can help us contextualise where it’s going”.

This is ably demonstrated on ‘Long Time Coming’ – a story about life on the road, with a superb guitar groove and a lovely call and response from lead vocalist Trevino Jr and the band. ‘Box Of Memories’ is about getting over someone you love and is another stand-out track.

The album closes with ‘Delta Man’ – an atmospheric bluesy number, which again shows how far the band have progressed through adversity and ‘made it to the other side’.

There isn’t a dud track on this album and it’s testament to the quality of the songwriting and production, as well as the sheer classy musicianship of the band, that this is as good an album as it is, with a great band photo as well. A mighty fine rebirth and so worthy of your attention.


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