William Clark Green Baker Hotel BioIn the proudly independent Texas-country scene, it’s not easy to separate yourself – or toevolve once you have. But for almost 15 years, William Clark Green has done both with a nodto his home state itself, both rooted in the past and barreling toward the future.Boasting sandpaper vocals and country-rock sound at the crossroads of back-alley grit andgravel-road grace, the Flint, Texas, native emerged like many others before – sauntering outfrom Lubbock’s live music loving college-bar scene. But he has since carved a space that isuniquely his own. Pairing singer-songwriter tradition with a progressive musical mindset, he’sboth a troubadour of troubled souls and maestro to lyrical mischief, renowned for underdoganthems filled with sardonic wit, vivid characters and even historical curiosity.Over five previous albums, multiple Number Ones on Texas Regional Radio have joinediTunes Country Album chart toppers, the respect of critics and peers and a vibrant touringprofile anchored on Texas’ biggest stages. But even after so much success, two years oftreading water left Green looking to get beyond his comfort zone.“My whole mentality is that if my voice went out tomorrow, or I lost my arm and my careerended, I’ve got nothing but gratefulness,” Green explains, flashing his signature sense of darkhumor.“But in some ways, we wanted to reach and see what else is out there. I think theband is ready, I think I’m ready, and it’s not really about money or anything. It’s about feelingthat high again, feeling that new-ness.”Returning withBaker Hotel,his sixth studio album and first in almost four years, Green goesafter that new-ness with an open mind, and the thoughtful approach of roots-rock poet. Justas each album before it, he continues mixing Lone-Star mythos into hisstorytelling, this timeoccupying an abandoned monument to the past in Mineral Wells, Texas. But as he hintedabove,Baker Hoteltakes his craft to new heights. Even for an artist who’s fans expect theunexpected, it finds Green raising his game to the proverbial penthouse suite.Featuring 13 tracks and the return of producer Rachel Loy (Rose Queen,Ringing Road),theset taps everything from lush ‘80s pop to classic highway rock and traditional Westernballadry, as Green seeks out new sonic connections – and probes deeper into his soul thanever. The set arrives after a grueling 2019 tour which featured more than 170 shows, then theisolation of a pandemic shutdown, and it’s that push and pull of burnout, creative detox andalmost-meditative rejuvenation that drives the project – all captured through the eyes of adeadpanning interstate philosopher.“Songwriting is such a weird deal for me, because everything I write about is true,” Greenadmits. “What this record means to me is self-reflection, realizing that I just turned 35 and it’slike ‘Where am I at in life? Where do I want to be? Where did I think I would be?’Not beingable to work, I had a lot of time to sit and think about myself, and what’sreallylocking medown, and that’s what I think this record is about.”The title track best captures the dual nature of that growth. Waiting until early 2021 to record,Green gathered a small group in his guitar player’s Texas home studio – his first in-staterecording since 2010’sMisunderstood– and they simply let the spirit move them.
Co-written by Green with Ross Copper and Dean Phillips, “Baker Hotel” checks in with aclassic dose of historic whimsy, landing squarely in the vein of much-loved adventureanthems like “Ringling Road.” But then it builds on precedent, adding in a strutting rockabillygroove.Now dilapidated, but still towering 14 stories over Mineral Wells, the real-life Baker Hotel wasonce among the nation’s most illustrious, hosting everyone from Bonnie & Clyde to MarilynMonroe and Ronald Regan. Green’s tribute likewise toasts the local tradition of sneaking inand climbing to the top, and with plans to revitalize it underway, his spooky-roots barnstormersalutes the past as a new age arrives.Elsewhere, however, Green’s not working off any playbook at all. Recording freshly writtensongs, sometimes penned just the day before, Green and his team felt free to roam. Some ofhis most challenging vocal performances are joined by in-the-moment arrangements,including craggy country rockers drenched in steel guitar, barstool ballads and two-steppersbuilt for packed venues all across the nation – plus orchestral strings and the fat-bottomedbass lines of daydreamy plains pop.Each new track is almost like a different guest in theBaker Hotelitself, as Green exploresthemes of evolution in myriad ways.“I think the entire COVID quarantine, it was about breaking out of chains to get back to normalon the outside, but also in an inner way, too,” he says. “It’s just a way different observation onmyself and the world than I’ve ever had before.”The high-flying “Feel Alive” may be project’s spiritual focus. Soaring with optimisticdetermination and a vocal that approaches the heavens, it’s the joyful sound of a soulopening up. With tracks like the confessional “Getting Drunk,” a lifelong good-timer wonderswhat he’s trying to drown out. And “Leave Me Alone” finds a guy arguing with himself in headspinning hill-country pop.Meanwhile, “Dog Song” pairs Green’s sly humor with a funky, four-legged foundation and acharming romantic turnaround. “Me, Her and You” dresses a classic-Western heartbreaker instunning strings. “All You Got” writhes with ‘90s alternative rock frustration, and “Give aDamn” shimmers like the last rays of a West Texas sunset, somehow feeling both empty andelectrifying.No, it’s no small feat to grow while staying true to who you are … and for a proud Texan, trueto where you’ve been. But if the last year-plus has taught him anything, it’s that the future isuncertain – so live fearlessly and blaze new trails while you can.“I’m so fired up to go, its ‘Like let’s see where the road leads?’” he says. “I don’t have any kindof constraints, and that is bad ass.