I owe Rayland Baxter an apology. Back when I reviewed "Yellow Eyes," another song off his upcoming release Imaginary Man, I mentioned that I had dismissed his previous album. After hearing a second song off of Imaginary Man, I was damn wrong to do so.
"Mr. Rodriguez" was inspired by Sixto Rodriguez, the now legendary Detroit folk artist and the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary Searching for Sugarman. "Mr. Rodriguez" is everything I want in a modern country/folk song. While mainstream country isn't even recognizable as country, and alt-country tends to co-opt an old fashioned sound that borders on novelty, "Mr. Rodriguez" takes elements of both to bring you the rare modern folk/country sound. Baxter is a fantastic storyteller in this song, which is going to bring obvious comparisons to both Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. It's a lush sound that is laid back without ever being boring. This has all the makings of a career-defining album.
Imaginary Man is due out August 14 on ATO Records. You can listen to "Mr. Rodriguez" below. You can keep track of what Rayland Baxter is up to on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.