And, They Call Us Cowboys: The Texas Music Project (Grr8 Records)
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Feb. 7, 2014
Kellye GrayAnd, They Call Us Cowboys: The Texas Music Project (Grr8 Records)
These songs remain well-worn evergreens, virtually all written by native Texans, but we've never heard them quite like this, interpreted through a jazz prism by Austin veteran Kellye Gray. After stints in Houston and San Francisco, she's back in town with this self-produced homage to the likes of Kris Kristofferson ("Help Me Make It Through the Night"), Townes Van Zandt ("If I Needed You"), and Roy Orbison ("Only the Lonely"). Along with a slew of local stalwarts, Gray fashions her own alternatively spunky and after-hours sensibilities to these Lone Star gems. Guitar ace Jake Langley plays the blues, funky on Mac Davis' "In the Ghetto" and low-down for the singer's smoldering take on the Willie Nelson-associated "Always on My Mind." Red Young digs down on Hammond B-3 organ for a soulful jaunt on Roger Miller's "Dang Me," while pianist Kevin Lovejoy gently beautifies Gray's smoky ballad reading of the opener, "Help Me Make It Through the Night."