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Jonathan Terrell

The Blackheart, Jan. 3

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Temperatures outside dropping rapidly, Rainey Street seemed refreshingly tame as opposed to its usual amped-up buzz. Inside the Blackheart, Jonathan Terrell warmed his faithful with tunes new and old. Primary on the agenda were songs from his latest release, knockout EP Color Me Lucky.

While Terrell's compositions always affect his Texas country roots, at times he spat out the words of his songs like young Dylan with the rasp of the Waterboys' Mike Scott. At other points there was bluster, a rebellious attitude evoking early Steve Earle. Austin's hardcore troubadour could teach some of the posers in the Red Dirt community a thing or three about songwriting that glimpses reality. Then he performed Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" with more intensity than its author ever put into it.

Of the trio that backed him, pedal steel player Simon Page added color beyond your standard country shuffle, although Terrell offered some of that too. Page stood out on new song "December Grey," a hymn for the downtrodden, and drove the slow build of "Color Me Lucky." Gleaming beauty rose from his strings.

Terrell stands out among a handful of Austin songwriters working these days with a healthy respect for tradition. He's entrancing, always unveiling newfound stories and refreshing melodies. The singer/guitarist reports his rock band, Not in the Face, is nearing completion on an album and plans one final blowout this spring before putting the group to rest.

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Jonathan Terrell

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