“Let’s keep the lonely places, lonely as long as we can …”
As career trajectories are measured, Red Shahan has covered a hell of a lot of ground in the three years since the release of his debut, Men and Coyotes — not to mention since his salad days a decade ago, when he began haunting the Lubbock club circuit and made the fateful decision that music would be his life’s path rather than baseball, rodeo, or firefighting. After a few more formative years of honing his chops and confidence as a songwriter, singer, and versatile musician in different projects throughout the region, he relocated to Fort Worth and began focusing in earnest on launching a solo career and recording the album that would serve as his official introduction to the Texas music world at large. Men and Coyotes was originally released in the summer of 2015 with little fanfare, but the red-headed troubadour with the lonesome howl and penchant for somber portraits of busted boom towns and gritty, white-knuckled anthems wasn’t long in hitting his stride and building a loyal audience the old-fashioned way: organically, from the ground up.
That grassroots success would in turn land him both a booking deal with the Beverley Hills-based Paradigm Talent Agency and the honor of being the first artist signed to fellow Texas artist Randy Rogers’ Big Blind Management roster. The next thing Shahan knew, he was playing his first official showcase at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville. After the set, a duly impressed English gentleman with shoulder-length silver hair approached him to enthuse, “You guys were great!” Shahan thanked him, but didn’t learn until after the fact that he’d just met Robert Plant. “It was such a dark-lit room that I didn’t even recognize him,” Shahan confesses today with a self-effacing chuckle. “I guess I dropped the ball on that one!”
Clearly, the gifted young troubadour from Bluff Dale, Texas is already off to a great start — and Shahan’s now poised to reach an even bigger audience with the March 30 release of his sophomore album, Culberson County, on Thirty Tigers. But as the new album’s title track makes pointedly clear, far from being swept away by any of his forward momentum to date, Shahan is still proudly rooted heart, mind, and soul in the West Texas earth from which he sprang. And yes, he’s still got a thing for coyotes, hearing in their wild cries not just the music of wide open spaces, but a defiant note of stubborn resiliency that speaks to his own instincts as a hardscrabble independent artist compelled to write about the all-too-often unsung — and unseen.
“If anybody ever had a ‘spirit animal,’ I would definitely say mine is a coyote,” he insists. “It’s just a very resilient animal — something that thrives off of the bottom rung of what people...