Fort Worth's Keegan McInroe released album "Agnes" on September 22nd. This explosive album is brimming with desert depression, deep pocket blues, Americana contemplation, and dare I say rock 'n roll?!
Perhaps one of the most unusual creations of an album, not unlike a McInroe move, "Agnes" was birthed on the dusty porch of the Santa Inez mission in Terlingua, Texas. Produced by McInroe and Bill Palmer, this album embodies its namesake with title track "Agnes" and hints of faint mission bells chiming in the hot wind. Touches of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Robert Earl Keen can be felt throughout the sounds of these nine songs.
The overall feel of the album is best described by tune "Agnes." Mission Santa Inez is a derivative from Agnes, meaning pure or holy in Greek, who was a young woman with the inability to be tamed, possessed, or controlled. This led to her untimely and cruel murder at the hands of those who wanted to break her. "Agnes" track, with harmonies by Palmer, is a broken down, songwriter tune. The easy wane of Doug Moreland's fiddle leaves a longing feeling while Morris Holdahl's steady guitar balances hope with melancholy grounding.
"Stoned and Broken Hearted" is a standout track on the album. Forris Gump Massey (yes, that's not a typo!) lays a sweet upbeat on this tune, making it one of the more lighthearted on the album while also exemplifying somber lyrics.
"I love how it came together, love the harmony parts in it; [and I'm] super pleased with how the writing came out," said McInroe. "It's a very empathetic song, of course. I definitely feel that is something the world is in dire need of more of."
This track has a line we can all understand as the days go by: "The world's gone crazy, sister. To not be broken would be insane."
"Then You'll Know" is a gritty chain gang song which sheds light on money hungry societal issues. Co-written by notable songwriter Jack Barksdale, "Then You'll Know" is riddled with haunting fiddle and even scarier sentiment within its lyrics. When the price is our home, how much are we willing to take? How little are we willing to sew?
Following "Then You'll Know" is a more direct reflection of the above questions: "Talkin' Site Unseen Blues." Its silly talking blues style delivery is as entertaining as its crybaby lyrics. Absolutely no one feels bad for the narrator (except for maybe deep pocket ~entrepreneurs~ haha) and keeps you on the edge of your seat, eagerly awaiting the next absurd yet totally feasible line. This tune could be classified as Americana, as the number of Airbnbs start to overcome actual homeowners in this country.
Western desert waltz "La Puerta" is a bilingual story about a dirty border sheriff, pouring cocaine and cartel operatives from Mexico to Texas. With its Spanish-inspired guitar riffs and McInroe's soft storytelling, "La Puerta" should have been released in the 1980s alongside Hank Williams Jr's "In the Arms of Cocaine" and other restless cowboy tunes. However, it is perfect for a modern day Marfa playlist or soundtrack to an evening of drinking in South Texas.
Between gruff Tom Waits grumbles and Kris Kristofferson serenades, McInroe's "Agnes" is a compilation of anger, hurt, sadness, and pensive hope for the current status of the world. McInroe continues to put forth heavy hitting songwriting that makes listeners question reality, debate ideals, and become introspective in their wanting. "Agnes" is well worth the spins while we catch a sly slip in with every repeated track.
You can enjoy "Agnes" live with McInroe's album release party on September 29th at the Rose Chapel's Southside Preservation Hall. "Agnes" is available on all streaming platforms for your listening pleasure.
We will leave you with a perfect synopsis from McInroe's team:
"The result is Agnes, at heart, a story-driven folk blues meditation and commentary concerning one of the more unfortunate aspects of the human condition: the seeming inability to leave the pure-- be it in natural or the individual-- unmolested."
* Photography by Tony Drewry.