By now I hope everyone is familiar with Flatland Cavalry. If you’re not, you need to wake up.
The Lubbock based band has been in the spotlight lately as the country music world has been anxiously awaiting their highly anticipated third album, Welcome to Countryland, set to be released Friday.
With 14 songs and features from Kaitlin Butts and Hailey Whitters, this one is sure to be one of the best albums of the year. It also helps that the album is coming at the perfect time, as the band has been rapidly growing in popularity and is starting their first national headlining tour.
With Reid Dillon on electric guitar, Wesley Hall on fiddle, Jonathan Saenz on bass, Jason Albers on drums, and multi-instrumentalist Adam Gallegos doing it all, the band’s success has undoubtedly been a group effort. I don’t think anyone would argue, though, that none of it would be possible without frontman and songwriter Cleto Cordero winning over fans with top-tier lyricism and his humble personality.
Cordero, who is also ¼ of Texas country supergroup The Panhandlers, is one of the best songwriters, and at the same time most underrated, in the game right now.
The band has also opened up a few shows for superstar Luke Combs in front of thousands of fans since their last album, and is set to open a few more big shows for him this summer. The upcoming album even features a song written by Combs, one of the five singles that have already been released, “A Cowboy Knows How.”
With the bands recent success, and in the shadow of the soon to be released album, it is easy to forget some of their earlier work that still deserves recognition. Even before their first two incredible albums, Flatland Cavalry released a five song EP in 2015 entitled Come May.
In anticipation of the new album, and to remember the songs that started it all, here is a ranking of the first five songs the band released over six years ago.
5. “Love Me in the Water”
Just because it’s ranked last out of the five, doesn’t mean “Love Me in the Water” isn’t a great song. Every song Cleto writes is worthy of a listen, and this one is no exception.
4. “Summertime Love”
One of the many reasons that Cleto’s songwriting is so good is the authenticity in his lyrics. In the video below, Cleto introduces this tune “I won’t say if it’s a true story, but I’m a bad liar, so, yeah it’s pretty true.”
He also credits it as the first song that really got people listening to Flatland Cavalry.
“I would be lyin’ If I were to say that I didn’t feel like dyin’ The day you drove away But I know that I’ll see your smiling face Come May”
3. “Ain’t Over You Yet”
A song about how hard it can be to give things up and get over a relationship, “Ain’t Over You Yet” is one of Cordero’s many lyrical masterpieces.
“’Cause I quit smokin’ cigarettes And gave up drinkin’ to forget And they say old habits die hard They seem to be the hardest part I quit lyin’ and taking bets But some addictions you can’t quit When it comes to you I always lose Guess I need my fix Livin’ my whole life with no regrets But I guess I just ain’t over you yet”
2. “Missing You”
Judging by listens on Spotify, “Missing You” is Flatland Cavalry’s second most popular song, despite being one of their first releases. To fans, though, that should be no surprise.
At any Flatland show you are sure to see fans rocking the band’s “Cigarettes and Adderall” shirt, a reference to the relatable lyrics in this song.
“I heard you finished school And you’re heading back home You found yourself a wealthy man Who plans to make you all his own You know me, I’m doing just fine Cigarettes and Adderall been keepin’ me alive”
1. “No Shade of Green”
Although it’s one of their oldest, this is still my favorite Flatland Cavalry song, but that may just be the Turnpike fanatic in me. Either way, it’s still a crowd favorite at every Flatland concert.
Cordero wrote this song after he and his buddies saw his favorite band, the Turnpike Troubadours, play at Chilifest in College Station. As Turnpike was playing “Long Hot Summer Day,” a blonde-haired, green-eyed girl dancing on a cooler caught their attention, and one of Cleto’s friends went and talked to her.
The next day, though, they couldn’t remember her name, prompting Cleto to write “No Shade of Green” about the mystery girl on the ride home to Lubbock.
“And you oughtta see her singin’ songs From the cooler she’s been standin’ on She might as well be the main stage Singin’ all the words to ‘Long Hot Summer Day’ And I can’t look away
And I wish that I could remember your name My jaded heart will never be the same I wish that I could remember your name ‘Cause I know you’re more than just a pretty face”
Flatland Cavalry has a sound unique to them and they have amassed many loyal fans of their own, but their fiddle-heavy music has been a blessing in Turnpike’s absence.
While there will never be anyone that can compare to Turnpike, it is safe to say that the band is doing their part to fill the void. If they are coming to play at a venue near you on this upcoming tour, I highly recommend you grab a ticket. Flatland cavalry is the real deal.
As any good band does, Flatland Cavalry has improved their sound, songwriting, and live performances as they have gained more experience over the years.
Welcome to Countryland is sure to be a culmination of all the band’s hard work thus far, and if the singles already released are any indication, we are in for a treat.