Steven Fromholz

Come on Down to Texas for Awhile: The Anthology 1969-1991

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Steven Fromholz is one of Texas's most beloved songwriters whose career now spans four decades. Australia's Raven label specializes in re-issuing American music either in anthology or two-fer form with nice booklets, new liner notes, and photos. Come on Down to Texas for Awhile covers Fromholz's material from 1969 through his 1991 album Everybody's Goin' on the Road -- though he continued to write and record in the 21st century. The songwriter is best known for his most often covered suite, "Texas Triology," and it opens the set here, sweeping to "Man With the Big Hat" and "Song for Stephen Stills," from his debut album Here to There. The next couple of tracks, "Blue Lines on White Linen" and the hilarious "Bears," come from his most consistent album, A Rumor in My Own Time. But in a sense, that's it. Admittedly, Fromholz is an acquired taste and fans of his will find their own reasons for liking or disliking this compilation based on what was left off in favor of something else. But for the rest -- including those who became aware of him in the book The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, there is nothing but mystery. Fromholz does not have the storytelling ability of a Hoyt Axton, Tom T. Hall, or fellow Texans such as Guy Clark (at his best, anyway), Billy Joe Shaver, or Townes Van Zandt. He's not a great singer and many of his lyrics are, well, corny. These songs begin to resonate as one overly long chapter in a novel that never reveals its characters; and after a while, it becomes revealing that unlike other artists, Fromholz never developed his craft beyond a certain level. Certainly, as witnessed with Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, this isn't a problem for some people who want their heroes never to change. That's what you get here from the first track to the last, a songwriter with a particular gift who has chosen for whatever reason not to expand its context.

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