For anyone paying attention, the clues were there.
Shades of Kristofferson showed up in “The Saddest Love That’s Ever Been Made” on 2009’s New Songs for the Old Frontier. On Mulligan one year later, “It’s a Long, Long Way” recalled Todd Snider’s “My Generation, Part II.” Sadly humorous character sketch “Tia Maria” (also on Mulligan) seemed torn from the shared notebook of John Prine and Blaze Foley.
I’ll bet you didn’t even know they shared a notebook.
You’ll find all of the above influences saluted on Ronnie Fauss’ latest collection, Any Lovin’ Way But Wrong, a covers EP that finds the Dallas singer-songwriter tackling “Clay Pigeons” (Foley), “Just the Other Side of Nowhere” (Kristofferson), “Happy to Be Here” (Snider), and “Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone” (Prine). If Fauss hadn’t already proven himself capable of writing original material of similar quality, this might seem a desperate and uninspired measure. But arriving at this particular moment – three solid EPs under his belt, the artist is preparing to kick things into a higher gear in the months ahead with work on his first full-length album – it’s more like he’s grounding himself in the work of some of his heroes, setting the bar against which we (and he) should judge his future output. The tightly-focused set of songs, and the way Fauss is able to quietly yet confidently make each his own, suggest that he has a solid idea of where he’s headed and all the talent it’ll take to get there. It’ll be our pleasure to watch it happen.
Samples from the new EP are below. At the moment, you can grab a free download of Mulligan at Ronnie Fauss’ website; I don’t know how long that deal will last, so you’re encouraged to act quickly if interested.