J.Just like Davy Crockett, his wild ancestor at the border, Charley Crockett lived a lot. The 36-year-old, the lonely drifter who strolls through his splendid Americana brand, was raised by a single mother in a caravan park in Texas before leaving for Paris, Morocco and Spain. In California there were stays in agriculture, New Orleans busking and his first break when he played in the New York subway car. “I have such a diverse, colorful background that I think people are overwhelmed ̵
It is a journey that has made Crockett even more committed to leaving his mark. Crockett’s latest album – the comprehensive, soulful Welcome to Hard Times – releases eight albums in just five years and is his Gothic masterpiece. It strides through Nick Cave’s most atmospheric moments and the gentle styles of Crockett’s Texas contemporary Leon Bridges, and also shows America’s haunting history with lynching and chain ties woven into his skilful storytelling.
Crockett has a mixed black, Cajun, Creole, and Jewish heritage, and is aware that he is rarely present in a country that sounds like old school. “I don’t look what a traditional country audience expects or might want to see,” he explains. But his outsider status is part of what makes his music so important. “When Hank Williams started making country music, they said very similar things about him that they said to me,” said Crockett, who made his debut on the most famous country music stage, the Grand Ole Opry, last year . “Back then it was either country fools or high society, and that was it.”
Crockett may seem extremely productive by modern standards, but his production is another thing that connects him to a different time when country stars were commissioned to make four or five records a year. “It’s just the business that’s changed,” explains Crockett, who says he has more in common with today’s fertile rap generation. “When you talk to a hip-hop artist during this time, you release several mixtapes each year and tracks every week.”
And so last year’s The Valley was followed in April this year by the rustic Field Recordings, Vol. 1, 30 tracks of the covers and originals by Chuck Berry and Carter Family, which dig deeply into its roots as “American Gypsy Troubadour”. When someone gets overwhelmed by their crisp, dusty sound, Crockett says it’s not a problem: “If people try to understand why the recording quality is so bad, don’t worry, I probably released another one in 10 minutes!”
Welcome hard times is out July 31 over thirty tigers