Paul Cauthen

Have Mercy EP (Lightning Rod Records)

Texas Platters

Paul Cauthen's 2016 solo debut, My Gospel, introduced the towering Texan's booming baritone, cutting between Waylon Jennings' rollicking power and Elvis Presley's trembling croon. New extended-play Have Mercy arrives as a necessary holdover, but not without evolution. First of seven new songs, "Everybody Walkin' This Land" summons Johnny Cash in a God-fearing anthem, yet with Texas Gentleman Beau Bedford producing, the mini album dives deep into country funk grooves more akin to Tony Joe White or Jim Ford. "Resignation" rolls as playfully as Bob Dorough's Schoolhouse Rock!, complete with whistling and rhyming vertigo, whereas "Lil Son" and "Tumbleweed" flash My Gospel's galloping Southwestern flair. The title track sears low and defiant, but closer "In Love With a Fool" offers an unexpected highlight. The Dan Dyer co-write swoons as smooth as a cosmic cowboy love ballad, wanting only for soaring strings to match Cauthen's deep well of want. Have Mercy picks up where My Gospel left off: just getting warmed up.

***.5

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