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Austin Collins
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Austin Collins

Hometown: AUSTIN, Texas

When asked why Austin Collins chose to name his sophomore effort “Roses Are Black,” Collins simply replied, “If something is dark, it doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.” That statement represents Roses Are Black in its entirety. It contains a deeply personal and cathartic vision of Austin’s thoughts, be they dark or not. This most recent work characterizes the ultimate expression of Collins’ tumultuous and beleaguered lyrical style, and it succeeds vibrantly at portraying a shadow-world made up of personal experiences. Raised in Houston, the 29 year-old Collins moved to Austin upon entering the University of Texas to study finance. His interest in the guitar took backseat, but when he started writing songs in his freshman year, friends and family convinced Collins that songwriting was his talent. After leaving his job as a financial analyst after 9/11, Collins immediately began performing original songs whenever he could. At that point, the major catalyst to the recording of his songs was his friend and Something Better producer Billy Cerveny. After hearing some of Collins’ songs Cerveny immediately offered whatever service he could to the aspiring songwriter. With the help of Cerveny, Austin recorded the critically acclaimed Something Better in a single week in Nashville. Generosity like Cerveny’s is a common response to Collins’ intensely personal songs that give the listener an immense insight into living Austin’s life. Collins takes his inspiration from artists that have previously defied what “country” means to them. Masters like Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Son Volt and the Drive-By Truckers offer a very important perspective to emerging songwriters like Collins. What thus far has been defined by critics as “alt-country” Collins sees as American music following out of its original source. The intention of bringing a unique sound into the recording studio has always been the key for Collins, and his search for a producer who could masterfully integrate two sounds like rock and country led him to producer Will Johnson. In Johnson, the key songwriter for critically acclaimed indie band Centro-matic, Collins immediately recognized a creative and innovative vision that he sought for his own album. With his dream producer finally secured, Collins began the process of developing Roses Are Black into the album he had envisioned from the beginning. Without hindsight or regrets, Collins intentionally set out to record his second album differently than his first in order to mark the significant growth in his own musical experience. Spearheading the sophomore effort, producer Will Johnson paints an organic, natural sound that distances itself from Something Better. “On Roses Are Black, I made a conscious effort to have it sound grittier and less polished,” said Collins. This choice has made Roses Are Black into a graceful album with room for Collins’ unique take on the traditional waltzes and serenades. Lyrically, the twelve-song record addresses the natural progression and consequences for living with decisions. Its overwhelming emotions on some of the songs like “House Without Windows,” “Goodbye Houston,” and “Out Loud” are apt examples of Collins’ perspective on the stark feeling that comes with uncertainty about love and relationships. The pervasive imagery and memorable harmonies that materialize in Collins’ work show his raw talent as a musician and songwriter. The recurring cast Collins has formed with backing band, the Rainbirds should be credited with the unified and consistent sound on Roses Are Black. The lineup of Craig Bagby on drums, Dylan McDougall on guitars, and Troy Wilson on bass brought a collaborative effort which Something Better lacked, and the album even includes one song written by drummer Craig Bagby, “Broken.” Collins also worked with his friend Daniel Makins to develop two standouts on the album, “The Witching Hour” and “Bridge Street Lullaby.” Exploring lyrics behind songs like “House Without Windows” and “Unapology” reveal the duality of Austin’s aim- making a beautiful-sounding album, but reaching deep into his own psyche to retell stories of harsh reality. With Roses Are Black, Collins successfully creates a record that appreciates the systematic catharsis of his emotional experiences. This jaunt through his mind is elegant, character-driven and, ultimately, Austin himself. Listen at Last.fm

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