Curtis McMurtry writes about villains that believe they are victims. Influenced by Fiona Apple, Billy Strayhorn and Leonard Cohen, Curtis’ music combines sardonic lyrics with crooked, unconventional arrangements. His first solo album Respectable Enemy was released in August 2014, and drew comparisons to Calexico and John Fullbright. His sophomore album The Hornet’s Nest was released in February 2017, and continues to garner critical acclaim. Curtis’ music has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, and his song “Wrong Inflection” was included in the soundtrack for comedian Tig Notaro’s Amazon Prime series One Mississippi.
HalleyAnna Finlay sings like her songs were stamped on her heart at birth. Evidence: The Country (2011). HalleyAnna’s superb debut collection swaggers (“So Heavy”) and sways (“Fast Train”) with effortless elegance. The album, which deftly spotlights her meeting point between Patsy Cline and Emmylou Harris, serves as a shining introduction to a skyward bound emerging talent. High watermarks – particularly, “Back in Your Arms Again” and “Peace Is Lonely, Love Is War”– demonstrated HalleyAnna growing exponentially sharp as a songwriter.
Austin-based singer/songwriter Dustin Welch was raised in Nashville, Tennessee in a community made up of people involved with various aspects of the music business. Welch was playing music and writing songs from an early age, starting bands as a youth with other children of musicians, including Steve Earle’s kid and talented young vocalist Cary Ann Hearst. Inspired by listening to Béla Fleck, he taught himself banjo and worked on his own experimental approaches to the instrument, and at the same young age began writing his own songs in droves. In 2006 Welch joined on as a touring member of the Celtic-fused rock group the Scotch Greens, playing shows across the U.S. and Europe and even embarking on a leg of the Warped Tour. Following his time in Scotch Greens he relocated to Austin, Texas and began work on what would be his debut solo album, 2009’s Whisky Priest. The album was an amalgam of musical and literary influences, with Welch drawing on the influence of both his large musical background and the writings of authors like John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, and Cormac McCarthy for his sometimes dark, storytelling songs. He followed up in 2012 with sophomore album Tijuana Bible. Apart from his solo career, Welch worked actively as a session musician in the Austin scene and also volunteered his time at Soldier Songs & Voices, a weekly songwriting and guitar workshop for veterans of the Armed Forces.