Southern California’s Ted Z and The Wranglers bring a refreshing honky-tonk rock sound to the table with their 2019 album, Southland.
Throughout the 12-track album, the classic twang of bluegrass-style guitar is complemented by the smooth yet grizzly vocals of the man known as Ted Z. Southland evokes both the feelings and imagery of a dance hall in West Texas on a hot weekend night, where it feels like everyone you know happens to be there. Simultaneously nostalgic and refreshing, this album invokes memories of a first exposure to Americana music as a youth, but it examines those same themes through a modern lens.
For example, the first song on the album, “Guests on Sunday Morning,” the traditional religious themes that Sunday morning evokes in country and Americana music are coupled with a less reverent and more modern view of religion.
As Ted Z said in an interview with Billboard regarding the song, “The idea is Sunday is supposed to be a day of worship and the Lord’s day. The idea started there and then went to having a bunch of rowdy friends come over — with the intention to do good things until one thing leads to another and rather than going to church you end up throwing a good party at the house.”
Another song, “Desiree,” a leading single from this project, explores the feelings of time having passed. Nobody can stop the runaway train that is time, and escape becomes more impossible when in self-reflection over lost love and wasted opportunities, as illustrated in this song. Listening to this single it feels appropriate to get in your car, turn your radio up, and just start driving without a destination. One of the highlights of this track comes from the bluegrass-y electric guitar solo that did an exceptional job at complimenting the emotional gravity of the song.
Encompassing themes of love, religion and life in the south, Southland captures the experience of Americana music of old through the eyes of a younger generation, ready to expand the genre’s reach while staying true to its roots.