From the moment the western twang of “Southeast Texas Son” enters the fold forward, there’s no stopping the momentum with which t.Roy & The Smoking Section will hammer out the new record The Texas Grit EP, currently out and making big waves in the underground this winter.
Where a lot of other acts in the blues community have been focusing on progressive concepts and other alternative avenues of songwriting, we find t.Roy & The Smoking Section entirely disinterested in experimenting with a tried and true model in The Texas Grit EP; instead, they’re focusing on fundamentals and giving us a masterclass in what makes the blues so fascinating to follow. While there’s nothing wrong with pushing the envelope into the future, it’s nice to come across a band that wants to show off some of the best qualities this genre has ever been known for, and with songs like the aforementioned “Southeast Texas Son” and “Some Kind of Secret” anchoring the start and finish of this EP, you can rest assured this crew brings their A-game to the table here.
The instrumentation melds together almost flawlessly in “Color Me Blu,” but we start to feel the chemistry these players have together when we pull into the mid-record “Chaison Park,” which is also one of the more refined arrangements to behold in this release. While I won’t say that he sounds cocky, t.Roy is sporting some serious confidence in this material, but to his credit, why wouldn’t he?
There’s so much he and his band have going for them when they’re working out a groove or even constructing a harmony from the bottom up, which is why something like “Chaison Park” or even the neighboring “Give Me Your Heart” can induce such strong chills in listeners. This is no amateur outing from a group trying to make a name for themselves, let alone figure out who they are as a band, but instead, a statement of self that tells us everything we need to know about their mission together plus a little extra.
I’ve been listening to the blues as long as I can remember, and though I won’t say that t.Roy & The Smoking Section are breaking the mold with any of the content in The Texas Grit EP, I do believe we’re seeing a band with a leg above the competition in every performance here. The Texas Grit EP has charisma even without the personalities of its players being brought into the spotlight, but when you factor in how much gusto we’re getting from t.Roy and his crew in “Some Kind of Secret” alone, it becomes obvious just how out of the ordinary this selection of musicians is. They care about the music and where it comes from, the origin story and the culture that has cultivated it, and for those who feel as strongly about the blues as they – and I – always have, this is an extended play that needs to be on your shelf before the season has come to an end.