Review: Ryan Culwell leans into his Texas Panhandle roots

  • This cover image released by Missing Piece Records shows "Run Like a Bull" by Ryan Culwell. (Missing Piece Records via AP)

    This cover image released by Missing Piece Records shows "Run Like a Bull" by Ryan Culwell. (Missing Piece Records via AP) Associated Press

Updated 1/25/2022 9:26 AM

Ryan Culwell, 'śRun Like a Bull" (Missing Piece Records)

Ryan Culwell is as Texan as an El Camino with a rusty tailgate. His Panhandle roots infuse everything he does.


That's as true as ever on Culwell's new album, 'śRun Like a Bull," the Americana singer-songwriter's third LP. It's more like his first album, 'śFlatlands" than his second 'śThe Last American," though the latter had its virtues. Here Culwell builds on a growing body of great music in all the best ways - and the feel of home rises out of these songs like dust on a long, flat highway.

Sounding like you're from somewhere isn't as easy as it might seem. Doing it authentically is what sets the great ones apart. You can't hear Loretta Lynn or even Tyler Childers without being transported to the mountains of eastern Kentucky. Otis Redding's full-throated passion couldn't come from anywhere but Georgia.

Still, Culwell sings less directly about the Texas landscape here than he has in the past. These songs are about heartache, regret and his own growth. The connection to home is more of an undercurrent than an over-the-top theme.

But much like the Panhandle itself, Culwell's music can be achingly bleak. That's especially true on the gorgeous 'śWhat You Waiting For" and 'śIt Won't Stop." He isn't wearing his roots on his sleeve so much as being who he is, an authentic and original voice.

'śLate at night I lay in bed, and run the roads inside my head, trying to return to where I'm from," he sings on 'śColorado Blues." 'śLying on my crooked back, I look back on my crooked path, winding my way back now just seems dumb."

The irony lies in what the music itself conveys. Culwell doesn't really need to wind his way back - because the truth is he never quite leaves.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.