When the pandemic put a halt to most of the South Austin Moonlighters’ touring schedule, band-member Chris Beall set out on his own, playing solo shows wherever he could. The Texan singer-songwriter found himself energised and began writing new material. The result is a collection of absorbing narratives, portraits and places reflected in Beall’s melody and lyricism. He says of the album: “I felt like the ‘landscape’ was important because I really wanted listeners to be able to ‘see’ these stories come to life.” It’s ambitious, painting musical pictures like these, but Beall takes us with him on his journeys, transporting us into the little worlds inhabited by his characters and memories. He continues: “I hope these songs help us to hold on when the time is right for holding on, and to move on when the time is right for moving on. I hope they help each of us come-to-grips with where we came from, and maybe where we’re going. I hope they help instil a renewed sense of appreciation and gratitude; that the songs tell the lonely ones ‘you’re not alone’ anymore. I hope these songs do what songs are supposed to do: heal us.”
Of his latest single and video, ‘Big Blue World’, Beall says: “It’s the picture hanging on the wall in the little, leftover diner in some small town in ‘Big Blue World’ where memories of family and heritage live on in the lives of the people there. I wanted to paint the ‘picture’, let the listener draw his/her own conclusions. I’m just here to help him/her get to the spot to make some. ‘Big Blue World’ was inspired by this old Polaroid picture I found when I was cleaning out my Dad’s old house in my old hometown, Abilene. The picture is of me as a kid standing beside my Grandma, all decked-out in polyester and corduroy bell-bottoms. She used to take me to this little diner there in Abilene called “The Dixie Pig”. I can still smell the coffee and cigarettes. That place is still around! So, when we were contemplating a video for the song we just decided to go right back to the place that offered so much inspiration in the song, The Dixie Pig diner in Abilene. Nothing says ‘small town heritage’ like an 80 year old diner and all the people that make up the family there.”
The video effectively reinforces the song’s lyrical message, using the the location, and the way it has been part of Beall’s own story, to reflect on how time passes: “A diner of memories // Still hanging around.” In the beginning, the diner is empty but it fills up as the song proceeds and Beall focuses on the lives we touch and leave behind. It’s subject matter that we can all associate with. At times almost speaking, like an intimate conversation in which he shares his nostalgic recollections, Beall’s voice is warm and tuneful. Layers of finely-played instruments add richness and depth, most notably Geoff Queen’s steel guitar, rising and falling, joining with the cadence of the vocal like another voice from the past. ‘Big Blue World’ is full of heart and melody, quality songcraft that feels instantly likeable and familiar. Enjoy.