North Texas is nothing if not a fertile source of songcraft. Artists who call the area home as well as those who have ventured farther afield continue to drop singles, EPs and full-length albums with regularity. Here are some thoughts on a trio of recently released projects from three very different, but equally skilled, North Texas artists.
Hannah Jadagu, Aperture
Mesquite native Hannah Jadagu told me last year that biding her time is not her preference: “I’m definitely impatient,” she said last summer. “When I was in high school, I would make things in two hours and put it out on SoundCloud.” Despite that impulsiveness, there’s a confidence and deliberate assurance to the 20-year-old’s Sub Pop debut LP, Aperture (out May 19), which lends weight to the gorgeous smears of synths and electric guitars laid against Jadagu’s luminous, floating vocals (“Say It Now” evokes a lush, lost 4AD B-side). If glowing praise from the likes of the New York Times is any indicator, Jadagu may not have to wait much longer for stardom to fully arrive. (Jadagu will perform at Dallas’ Club Dada Sept. 13.)
Robert Ellis, Yesterday’s News
Now based in Fort Worth personally and professionally, with a hand in both Niles City Sound and its newly established label Niles City Records, singer-songwriter Robert Ellis follows the brash excess of 2019’s Texas Piano Man with this delicate, arresting collection of nine songs (out May 19). Cut live to tape in the space of just 48 hours, the endlessly fascinating Ellis showcases a tender side — you can practically hear him hovering in front of the microphone as the title track draws to a lightly strummed close — and reinvents himself yet again, slipping the constraints of genre and simply making music that grabs hold and refuses to let you go.
The Rocket Summer, Shadowkasters
Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Bryce Avary has spent more than 20 years honing his eclectic brand of pop-rock, signing with Island Def Jam when he was scarcely out of high school. Fort Worth native Avary, who performs every instrument and self-produces his songs, is back with his eighth studio album, Shadowkasters (out now), which follows 2019’s LP Sweet Shivers. Much of his latest LP was assembled over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and finds Avary twisting, bending and stretching his tenor voice against glitchy backdrops — “Eyes 2 Skies” is a stormy, early highlight. (The Rocket Summer performs June 8 at Dallas’ Granada Theater.)
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.