Well before independent country had reached anywhere near the arena level, well before Western music had experienced a resurgence among the wide population thanks to Colter Wall and others, and when the underground of country music was just bubbling up to undergird the robust music community we enjoy today, a guy by the name of Slackeye Slim came around and significantly upped the ante for creativity and storytelling in the underground country scene.
His debut album Texas Whore Pleaser made some racket for sure, but it was Slackeye’s 2011 conceptualized magnum opus El Santo Grial: La Pistola Piadosa that went on to win Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year, and remains one of the greatest underground country albums of all time. Slackeye Slim then followed this up with 2015’s Giving My Bones to the Western Lands.
As the alter ego of Joe Frankland, Slackeye Slim injected a cinematic perspective into Western music, including an expansive sound that captured the West’s wide open spaces, and stoked the imagination with its Ennio Morricone-style acoustics and percussion. Now he is back after an eight year absence and after mercilessly writing, recording, and scrapping songs in an effort to hone and refine his inner voice. The new album is called Scorched Earth – Black Heart, and it will be released on June 23rd.
Currently living in Montezuma County, Colorado in the Four Corners region, Slackeye Slim hunkered down in a house outside of Dolores, CO with recording engineer/musician Trevor Richards of Pittsburgh PA and assistant Jered Davis of Durango, and went to work. Some of the other folks who appear on the album include Jeff Curtis on organ, Sam Koskela on accordion, and Mario Garcia of New Mexico’s The Imperial Rooster on drums.
After the bones of the tracks were laid out, Slackeye Slim found favorable spots in the desert canyons of southwest Colorado to set up a remote solar powered studio where he recorded the vocals and other finishing touches. The album isn’t just from the West, it’s of the West. But compared to some of his previous projects, the inspiration for Scorched Earth – Black Heart is not found in the struggle of fictional characters, but Slackeye Slim’s own internal conflicts of battling mental illness and combating painful memories.
Even if you’re just listening to Slackeye Slim, his music always comes with a very robust visual component with the way it provokes your imagination. But specific to Scorched Earth – Black Heart, the early singles have been accompanied by some rather spectacular videos that are worth checking out themselves. In this age of rather pedestrian efforts at visual media, it’s rare that the visual accompaniment rises to meet the inventive nature of the music. It definitely does in this case, and they were orchestrated by Slackeye himself.
Scorched Earth – Black Heart is now available for pre-order on vinyl or cassette, and will be available everywhere digitally on June 23rd.
1. Everything Follows This
2. Crooked Teeth
3. Somebody Else’s Name
4. Mama’s Favorite Son
5. I Took You Up The Mountain
6. Old Farmhouse
7. We Were Lurkers
8. The Worst Part of Me
9. Goddamnit, It’s Christmas
10. Scorched Earth
11. Black Heart