Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins has been around awhile, fronting Austin’s “Cosmic Dust Devils” and now touring and recording as “Ghosts of the American Road”.

But Higgins found his solo mojo in 2009’s “Find Your Shine”, a simply stunning collection of stories and portraits that stretch from his imagination to the desert horizon. His El Paso roots shine through these tales of lonesome survivors, bleached and weathered in the vast empty that is West Texas. Giants and poets have risen here and imagined something more. The strongest left to find it.

This stark territory figures large in the landscape of Texas music, and is considered by many to be the birthplace of the rawest and realest version of an art form that trades in hard reality. Holly, Jennings, Ely, Gilmore and more than a few Hancocks. Loners squinting into the wind to the horizon, looking for that sliver of sun that signals the end of the storm.

“Find Your Shine” is as close as anyone has come to painting a picture of life in this outback. A place so bleak that its people have been hard for generations, a place where something good is so rare that it stands out like an antelope in yellow grass. Easy to find but hard to hang on to. In “Monahans”, a jewel about first love lost, Higgins confesses “…you grab ahold of something good and it slips right through your hands.”

In the powerful “West Texas Aggregate”, Higgins remembers a father that just “stares straight ahead” and a brother that “hardens up his heart and welds it to his muscle car.” In the end, he is resigned to the hand he was dealt. “This is my home, this is my place, these are my people, despite what we say.”

“Infinity”, an ode to real and enduring love, is welcome relief from the desolation, as is “Kickaround Kid”, an endearing story about a child’s boundless strength in the face of heartbreak.

This record is the real thing. Toss one back, throw Kevin Higgins on the table and feel those dusty winds blow right through you.

Three things to know about Kevin Higgins: (1) his talented wife and musical partner, Barbara Malteze, is always by his side, (2) Barbara and Kevin are reported to spend quite a bit of time in the lovely Texas Hill Country outposts of Fredericksburg and Hondo, and (3) he buys his boots in El Paso.

If you love Kevin Higgins, Austin Songwriter suggests you check out James McMurtry, Mary Gauthier and Ana Egge.