East Texas Talents Release CDs


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A veteran songwriter, a young newcomer, and a recent graduate from a prestigious Northeastern university are among Upper East Side of Texas musicians with new albums. The lines, as they often do, blur; the vet is releasing her first album, the young newcomer has been singing since she was a single digit, and the Berklee School of Music grad is an East Texas “boy” through and through.

The vet is Heather Little, who lives in Lindale and has more than 200 songs to her credit including co-writes on two of Miranda Lambert’s hit songs: “Me and Charlie Talking” and “Gunpowder and Lead.”

Little’s new – first – album is the quietly excellent Wings Like These. She shares mature songs in an appealing, often yearning voice, saying a lot in a few words. Her country songs are consistently exquisite and intelligent.

It’s hard to pick a favorite among the eight songs that deal with bands of gold, wanderlust, and the lures of freedom and fear. Lest we think all of the songs ache, there’s also “The Rent,” a funny bit about a guy who wants a woman to live with him so she can share the rent and pay half the bills. And there’s the upbeat-sounding “Rope,” about a wandering man: “give him enough, he’ll be swinging from a tree, no more playing with the birds and the bees…if he wants some more, serve it up with a smile…gravity will do the rest.”

Little – her character in “My Whole Heart” – claims her younger days are gone: “what time didn’t steal, I just gave away.”

Which brings us to the youngsters here: Jaden Farnsworth and Rafael Espinoza?

Farnsworth, an 18-year-old from Canton who’s been singing she was three or so, has eight songs – all her own originals – on her brand new debut album, Heart Sing, dealing with love and love lost and yearning. Taylor Swift is an obvious influence, along with Colbie Caillat. She’s also influenced by Norah Jones, Grace Potter, John Mayer, Amy Winehouse, and old-timers including Frank Sinatra and Etta James, and others.

Espinoza’s Brighter Day is a mix of traditional gospel (the slow-paced medley “Lord I’m Coming Home/Suppertime” with country, rock, old-style R&B, blues, and an extended bit of Dixieland.

His passion for music at Alba-Golden High School led to Tyler Junior College and on to Berklee, where he was named one of the top jazz and blues guitarists in the school before his recent graduation.

Over time, Little has carved her own country-folk style (with bits of soulful jazz and even rock). It will be interesting to see how Farnsworth and Espinoza carve their own styles, something that will set them apart from the hundred thousand or more other people in Texas making their livings – or wanting to make their livings – with music.

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