As 2023 rolls on, we continue our backward glance at Texas-tied albums celebrating significant birthdays in the next 12 months.
For this batch, we’ve arranged, chronologically by release date, an array of mostly North Texas-rooted records which will mark two decades of existence over the course of 2023. (In case you missed it, here are the albums celebrating their 30th anniversaries this year, and the 25th anniversary LPs.)
The Rocket Summer, Calendar Days (released Feb. 8, 2003)
The Fort Worth-born singer-songwriter Bryce Avary made his full-length debut with this record, the first of two projects he’d release prior to signing with Island-Def Jam just four years later. Avary’s keen sense of propulsive electro-kissed pop was evident from the jump.
The D.O.C., Deuce (released Feb. 25, 2003)
Born Tracy Curry in west Dallas, but perhaps better known by his rap moniker The D.O.C., this record stands, as of this writing, as the last studio album The D.O.C. has released to date. Deuce arrived at the tail end of a whirlwind period, not least of which was the car accident which gravely damaged his larynx, rendering rapping and speaking difficult. (He’s since fully recovered.)
Kelly Clarkson, Thankful (released April 15, 2003)
Well before she was ruling reality television (eponymous talk show in the daytime; coaching The Voice in the evenings), the young woman from Burleson followed up her win as the inaugural contestant on American Idol with these dozen songs on her major label debut. The record premiered at number one, and would eventually go platinum twice.
Meat Loaf, Couldn’t Have Said It Better (released April 21, 2003)
A rarity in the Dallas native’s catalog, this LP was only released in the United Kingdom, and to date, has never been officially released in the U.S. For only the third time in his career to this point, the man born Marvin Lee Aday abstained from working with lyricist Jim Steinman, although the pair would eventually reconnect for 2016’s Braver Than We Are, the final studio effort for both men.
Eisley, Laughing City (released May 20, 2003)
The legend of the Tyler-born DuPree siblings (Sherri, Chauntelle, Stacy and Weston) began in earnest here, with the five-track Laughing City EP, which was the band’s debut release on Warner Bros. These immaculately constructed slices of indie pop still resonate 20 years on, even as the band has drifted into different side projects, and not released any new material since 2017.
Beyonce, Dangerously in Love (released June 20, 2003)
It seems quaint (and borderline laughable) to think of Beyonce stepping outside of Destiny’s Child as anything approaching a gamble now, but it was far from given she’d achieve stratospheric fame on her own when this collection, anchored by the addictive “Crazy in Love,” first dropped in the summer of 2003.
Pat Green, Wave on Wave (released July 15, 2003)
San Antonio native Pat Green made quite the splash with this, his sophomore LP for major label Universal South. The title track remains Green’s – who now calls the Fort Worth area home – highest charting single to date, as well as a staple of his much-loved live shows.
Jessica Simpson, In This Skin (released Aug. 19, 2003)
The Dallas-raised pop star began transitioning away from the (relatively) squeaky clean pop music that was omnipresent at the turn of the millennium, and embracing a more adult, sophisticated sensibility on this, her third album. This record also has the distinction (ignominy?) of being the catalyst for the MTV reality series “Newlyweds,” which tracked Simpson’s 2002 marriage to fellow pop star Nick Lachey, who had a hand in creating Skin.
Erykah Badu, Worldwide Underground (released Sept. 16, 2003)
Although the Dallas neo-soul icon released this LP on the heels of what she called the “Frustrated Artist” tour, you’d never know, listening to this collection, Badu was anything approaching stymied. Situated between the critically acclaimed Mama’s Gun and the game changing New Amerykah diptych, it’s an irresistible listen.
Lyle Lovett, My Baby Don’t Tolerate (released Sept. 30, 2003)
For the first time in nearly a decade, Lovett showcased his peerless skill as a songwriter with this collection of originals, many of which (“Cute as a Bug,” the title track) have become beloved staples of his freewheeling live sets.
Robert Earl Keen, Farm Fresh Onions (released Oct. 7, 2003)
Until he officially wrapped up life on the road last year, the Houston singer-songwriter was a reliable source of recording and touring. His eighth studio effort, Farm Fresh Onions, was chock full of his trademark songcraft.