Alias Wayne’s Fubar is the new collection from Texas roots/Americana singer-songwriter Ranzel X. Kendrick. Kendrick does an outstanding job of delivering a full album’s worth of musical ingenuity within four songs without ever overwhelming his listeners. There’s a core unity binding the tracks together, but no two songs on Fubar manifest that unity in the same way. Kendrick has so many sides here, he’s round. The lyrics likewise steadfastly resist repetition, and each song explores different byways of the songwriter’s life. There are other musicians working with Kendrick to realize the material’s potential but, by the time you finish the final song, it’s apparent that he is the heart of this release, irresistible, intensely human, and attuned to every detail.
“Love One Another” is a stirring and soulful rebuke to hate and conflict. Kendrick doesn’t side with any cause other than peace and harmony between humankind and the world we share. It’s notable that he delivers such a message without the song ever lapsing into saccharine overkill. He fine tunes every element of the song’s arrangement to emphasize the message first, but no one will be disappointed by the accompaniment. He doesn’t gloss over the musical components of the song. His use of Biblical language has a long tradition in Americana and roots music and will help him foster a deeper connection with listeners familiar with such imagery.
Fubar’s second track “Father Song” has a far more overtly intimate thrust. There’s a lot of self-reflection present in Kendrick’s lyrics and it wavers between rueful heartbreak and a sense of the possible. His decision to incorporate strings into the arrangement layers the song with essential atmospherics without drawing too much attention to itself. His restraint has its own artistry. One of the peak merits of the EP as a whole is the acoustic guitar playing. It isn’t hard to hear that every song on this release began with Kendrick alone with his six-string conjuring the song out chord by chord, note by note, but there’s no obvious signs of heavy labor. It flows as naturally as a flourishing stream.
“Eight Ball in the Corner Pocket” is a bit of offhand magic. Including a strong brass presence in this song may surprise some listeners, but it shouldn’t. Kendrick is obviously a songwriter who obeys the needs of individual songs and takes nothing off the table. “Eight Ball in the Corner Pocket” sounds like a track that emerged from him in a single sitting, fully formed, and sparkling with the joy of creation. “Window of My Soul” is the last track and it’s a stunner. Kendrick brings us as close as he can to his heart and bares all for the listener. The flute that comes into the song during its second half diversifies the sound without ever sounding out of place and the piano running through the track has a delightful effect on the final result. Fubar has something for everyone who enjoys traditional music filtered through an one of a kind perspective.