Can You Love The Panhandlers As Much As They Love West Texas?

The Panhandlers New Album Reviewed

The Pnahandlers – Mackenzie Ryan Photography

The Panhandlers

Second Album ‘Tough Country’

Out Now

By Rob Dickens

As a keen Australian observer of US roots music and culture, there’s no doubt that Americans are immensely proud of their nation. Citizens love their State and County too. Texans take it a step further and, with the possible exception of Kentuckians, are A-graders at defiantly and unapologetically promoting and supporting their vast tracts of land they call home.

You can tell that The Panhandlers love their native West Texas. For one, the theme emanates unrelentingly through Tough Country with vivid descriptions of the Texas Panhandle Plains and its rugged terrain. Secondly, songs like “West Texas Is The Best Texas”, “Midland Jamboree” and “Moonlight in Marfa” present a compelling case to pack my bags and check it out for myself.

The Panhandlers’s second full-length LP Tough Country is a rustic gleaming Americana/Texicana triumph, moving effortlessly from tender ballads, loose-lipped anthems, consummate musicianship and a formidable set of multi-vocalists. Formed in 2019, the group consists of singers/songwriters Josh Abbott, John Baumann, William Clark Green and Flatland Cavalry’s Cleto Cordero. Here’s the title track, written by Cordero and Green and co-produced by Bruce Robison:

“The Tough Country record is a reflection of the term itself. It’s rugged, desolate in places, sweeping in others, while being beautiful and heartfelt at the same time. It’s a collection of works that the four of us came together to make happen – not only for ourselves as artists and friends but for the people who have supported us from the beginning. The album is an homage to our origins and to all of the legendary musicians and songwriters who came before us from the inspiring land of West Texas.” 

John Baumann

Featuring four of Texas’ most notable country singer/songwriters, The Panhandlers is their first foray into the world of Americana. Initially formed as a tribute to area legends The Flatlanders, the band decided to record original material after a fruitful Marfa songwriting session, leading to their 2020 self-titled debut. Since that record, the band has only grown in popularity, with their cover of “West Texas in My Eye” being featured in the fourth season of hit Paramount TV show Yellowstone

Here’s another single “Valentine For Valentines,” a duet with Kaitlin Butts:

Do I love Tough Country as much as The Panhandlers love West Texas? Well, probably not but this is one of the finds of the year.

The band is performing at AmericanaFest this year and I will be sure to catch them there.

Tough Country Tracklist

1. Flat Land

2. Where Cotton Is King

3. West Texas Is The Best Texas

4. Midland Jamboree

5. Tough Country

6. Moonlight in Marfa

7. Lajitas

8. Valentine, For Valentines

9. Santa Fe

10. The Chilton Song

11. The Last Gentleman In Southwest Texas

12. Last Hangover

13. The Corner Comedian

14. I Got Your Back Dog

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The Panhandlers New Album Reviewed

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Author: Rob Dickens

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