Hill Country Hip - Best of RXK

by Ranzel X Kendrick (Alias Wayne)

Track listing: Seguin Son-of-a-Gun, What a Pretty Day, Cactus Flower, Trouble and Pain, One Way to Del Rio, Broke Down in Texas feat. Alias Wayne, Baptized in Butterflies, Ada's Farm, Peace of Mind, Eternal Flame, Wayfarer, Little Whisper, Any Ole Song

I was initially confused last year when I reviewed Alias Wayne's "Ms Mystery." Was the artist named Alias Wayne or was it this guy Ranzel X Kendrick who seems to be co-branded on Alias Wayne's socials and webiste? The answer is: Yes. Once it was clear that this was indeed the same person, I began to appreciate the world of wonder to be found in the realm of Ranzel X Kendrick (Alias Wayne). 

As you listen to his discography, when you come across songs in the spectrum of Alt-Indie Rock, Blues, Jazz and World music, you've got Alias Wayne coming out of your speakers. You'll know when you're on the Ranzel X Kendrick  train 'cause you'll find yourself knee deep in acoustic-based Texas Roots & Americana. And this is where we find ourselves as we listen to Hill Country Hip - Best of RXK.

The lead-off track "Seguin Son-of-a-Gun" has an immediate familiarity to it. Hell, I'm writing this from the Texas Hill Country just about an hour north of the Central Texas town of Seguin. My dad used to raise cain in that area back in the late 1950s. Note to self: send this track to my dad; he'll get a kick out of it.

Kendrick is a Texas native who has called Costa Rica home for quite a while. You can hear the sense of freedom and relaxation in each track. Ambling is the verb that immediately comes to mind. "One Way to Del Rio" has such a 'front porch' sound, just sitting with a couple buddies, a guitar, harmonica, and a few ice cold beers. You might argue that "What a Pretty Day" veers in the jazzy direction of Alias Wayne's jazz sound, but really we're just a quarter-genre away from a song Gene Autry might sing while out riding his trusty steed, Champion.

This isn't a record anyone's gonna mistake for Lyle Lovett's big band -- the instrumentation, writing and arrangements are all pretty straightforward. And Kendrick's vocals harken to a sort of Jimmy Buffet mood, in that you focus on the joy in the tone more than you look for any vocal gymnastics. We've got an enjoyable, chill record here where Ranzel X Kendrick gets to showcase his years of cranking out songs that tell the story of his life...and judging by the lyrics, it's a pretty enjoyable life his lived up to now.

Take a closer look into Ranzel X Kendrick (Alias Wayne). You can start at ranzelxkendrick.com and then venture into his Spotify profile and other socials. Relax, take a load off, and imagine the sights and sounds of the Texas Hill Country morphing into the Costa Rican countryside. Pretty enjoyable way to live, right?

Posted on 3/12/24