Review – Garrett T. Capps & NASA Country – “People Are Beautiful”

photo: Josh Huskin

And now for something a bit off the beaten path, San Antonio’s resident throwback country weirdo freak, Garrett T. Capps, has tapped into country music’s underutilized cosmic influences in a collaboration with NASA Country, and created an immersive experience titled under the name People are Beautiful. Don’t worry, bong rips and psychoactive substances aren’t entirely necessary to unlock the entertainment value of this work. If they nonetheless enhance it, that is for you to decide.

The country music of Garrett T. Capps has always been pretty far out, but the point of this project is to purposely trek towards the outer limits of country. Mixing psychedelia with country is nothing new. In fact, it’s a long-established influence in the genre. From The Byrds and The Grateful Dead early on, to more recent landmark releases like Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, and Marty Stuart’s Way Out West, it’s a wonder why more artists don’t work in these modes, especially when the results are often quite positive.

Yes, get ready for beeps and pulses of electronic technology interwoven with twangy lead guitar underpinned by surf influences. But the results are something still more cousin to country or classic rock than EDM. Some of the sounds may be created from resistors and capacitors, but they’re still vintage in the sense that they’re from yesterday and inspired by bands like Krafwerk, and have withstood the test of time as eternally relevant, just like many of country’s vintage tones.

If you get to over-analyzing this album though, you’re missing the point, which is to zone out, tune in, and let the waves of music and the messages born on the them shepherd you away from the cold hard mundanity of modern life to a more imaginative landscape full of the wisdom of inner consciousness. People Are Beautiful may employ more old-school sounding music, but it was written for today when it feels like the edges of society are beginning to fray, when you don’t know who or what to trust, and you’re not exactly confident on where this world is headed.

In times like these, the freaks of yore remind us to not freak out, and that despite the eddys in human progress that sometimes create false impressions, the trajectory of humankind continues flow in a positive direction. The assuring message of the opening song “Gettin’ Better,” the expungement of negative thought actuated through “Rip Out The Darkness,” or the unburdening of cares found in the enveloping melody of “Travellin’ Days” help convey this knowledge to the weary soul.

People Are Beautiful is the final installment in Garrett’s “Shadows Trilogy,” and was recorded at the Sonic Ranch in West Texas. It’s a more ambient experience than an active one, at least until the title track at the end. It’s perfect for a road trip, or when you’re stuck in traffic and need to diffuse. Capps is quick to say himself that it’s not especially “country.” His last solo album I Love San Antone released in 2021 is where someone should point their nose if they want something more conventional and twangy, though still with an element of the weird.

But the point of People Are Beautiful in cahoots with NASA Country is to blast off beyond the stratosphere of genre, and look back upon this ball of blue hurtling through space. Up above it all, everyday problems seem petty, and the differences that separate us seem marginal. It’s there where an equilibrium can be found when trying to sift through the noise of the moment, and put everything into perspective.

8/10

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