Billy Crain’s ‘Family Matters’ features rich emotional tracks that hit you right in the feels
Even if you don’t recognize his name, if you’re a fan of roots rock, you’ve likely heard Billy Crain play before.
Active in the genre since 1970, Crain’s played with everyone from the Dixie Chicks to Martina McBride, The Outlaws, the Rolling Stones and ZZ Top.
Now on his own, Crain’s new album, his 4th solo disc, “Family Matters” features a collection of exciting, textured, well-produced tracks that any music fan can find something in it to enjoy. Not only that, but this, and each of Crain’s other albums, have helped fund his humanitarian efforts, as well.
In the official release for the album, it states, “Incredibly endearing and full of the profound emotion that only comes from a life on the road Family Matters takes you on a musical journey.”
That journey is indeed worth taking. Some of my favorite tracks include “True Beauty,” “Road Warriors” and the epic ballad “Hurricane Helen.”
Each of the tracks have individual flavors that pull on different emotional strings. Whereas “Hurricane Helen” creates a massive tension it releases with a large hook in the chorus, “True Beauty” eases you into comfort with a Tom Petty-like verse structure that gallops into the memorable chorus with lines such as “True beauty, yeah comes from the heart, you will find it on the ocean floor or written in the stars. When the fantasy’s gone and covered in dust that’s the moment you see true beauty show up.”
It speaks to a universal truth that can help serve as a bit of advice hidden in a well-made song — that sometimes you don’t really start to appreciate someone’s love until the infatuation has disappeared.
Crain continues to show his expertise in “Road Warriors” with a beautiful instrumentation and a melody that you can’t help but bob your head to while listening. I keep coming back to how much this album reminds me of some of Petty’s greats such as “Free Fallin'” or “I Won’t Back Down,” but once you hear these songs you’ll surely hear the similarities for yourself.
What I particularly enjoy about this album is the descriptive, active words Crain uses to paint vivid pictures in all of his songs. It’s a talent not everyone can pull off well, but Crain knocks it out of the park on nearly every song on this album.
It’s a sound that might not be considered “modern” but that doesn’t take away from it’s mastery.
Crain’s lived a fascinating life outside of music, as well. According to his official bio, he’s claimed to have drank whiskey with Jimmy Page, shared the stage with a Blues Brother named Dan Ackroyd, and “traveled in Econoline Vans, Silver Eagles, and puddle jumper planes and toured the world many times over.”
in 2011 he went to Hati on a humanitarian trip after his brother died. He and his wife were foster parents for a 22-month-old child that came to him on the same night as his brother’s memorial. He said he wrote his second album “Creole Shoes” about his experiences in Hati. He also donated part of the proceeds from that album to Chadasha, a foundation that funds orphanages in Hati.
This year, with the release of “Family Matters,” Crain said the album helped sponsor those willing to go to Columbia from his church to go on a mission trip.