Rayland Baxter’s anticipated new full-length album, Imaginary Man, is out now on ATO Records (iTunes). In celebration of the release, Entertainment Weekly recently premiered a new in-studio session video of Baxter performing the album’s first single, “Yellow Eyes.” Of Baxter and the song, Entertainment Weekly praises, “…a standout song on an album full of excellent writing and careful melodies. The track balances warm acoustics, and side-eyed, self-deprecating lyrics.” The video can now be viewed/shared here. Additionally, Baxter’s recent interview on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” with host Linda Wertheimer can be heard here.
Released to widespread critical attention, Stereogum proclaims, “…this record is choose-your-own-adventure indie-country-bliss…On Imaginary Man Baxter proves that Nashville sensibilities can work like a prism: filtering indie, pop, outlaw and gospel into the musical ethos of a single man. One thing’s for sure, he’s got a hell of an imagination,” while The New York Times praises, “Nashville may be the capital of country music, but it’s also seen its share of top rock acts, including Jack White’s Raconteurs, Kings of Leon and Paramore. Rayland Baxter sits between those two worlds, as evidenced on his second full-length release…On this album, Rayland builds melodies with lush guitars, keyboards and harmonies far closer to the Shins than Blake Shelton.” Moreover, of “Yellow Eyes,” NPR Music’s Ann Powers asserts, “Many musicians can craft about one-third of an excellent pop song. Some write beautiful bare melodies that drip into your head like honey into cake. Others are masters of tone, using genius arrangements and technical wizardry to craft a sound that transports, no matter the shape of the tune. Still others employ wit to craft characters that feel like friends. Rarely, a musician manages to do all three. On the new ‘Yellow Eyes,’ Rayland Baxter comes pretty darn close to such perfection,” while GQ calls the album track “Young Man,” “The Best Song From Fashion Week.”
Recorded in Nashville, the 11-track album was produced by Adam Landry (Deer Tick, Diamond Rugs) and Eric Masse (Andrew Combs, Robert Ellis) and features Bucky Baxter (Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams) on pedal steel as well as Jessie Baylin, Isaaca Byrd (MYZICA), Mikky Ekko, Jordan Lehning (Caitlin Rose, Steelism) and Matt Vazquez (Delta Sprit) on background vocals.
Of the album, Baxter comments, “To me, Imaginary Man is an audible record of my journey down the bright blue river of imagination. It is a multicolored dream of song, a sonic birdbath if you may. The sounds and songs are as visual as they are tactile and it shows a bit more of who I have become as an artist, as continual and never ending as that process is.”
Imaginary Man follows Baxter’s highly praised debut feathers & fishHooks, which was released in 2012. Since then, Baxter has toured alongside Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Kacey Musgraves, The Head and the Heart, Shakey Graves, Boz Scaggs and Tedeschi Trucks Band, among many others.