For many years, Craig Wayne Boyd, Casey James and Adam Wakefield have been known as standout country artists who each got their start on singing competition shows. The three men have paved their own path as solo artists in the genre, and in 2020, they combined their unique musical styles to form a country power band. Now the artists, under their new moniker of Texas Hill, are showcasing their brand of rock and soul-infused country music with their debut album, Heaven Down Here.
The project, released on January 21, features 11 tracks that work together to tell the musical story of Texas Hill. The lead and title track, “Heaven Down Here,” begins that story by greeting listeners with a vintage, Southern rock-inspired sound complete with acoustic instrumentation, classic electric guitar and natural percussion. The song also finds the band members singing in unison, a style that is reminiscent of groups such as The Allman Brothers Band, the Eagles and Alabama.
“As far as the sound of the album, we just wanted to make a record that sounded like a band that we would all like that was probably from the ‘70s — something like the Eagles, something that’s got a timeless vibe to it,” Wakefield shared with The Nashville Briefing. “We’re not afraid to go where the music leads us,” adds James. “Where the song needs to go, we go there, and we don’t want to worry about anything. Especially for me, it’s super refreshing to just let it do what it does and not worry about it.”
The band continues this free-wheeling attitude throughout the rest of the project, with each song carving out a slightly different musical path than the next. In the gospel-influenced second track, “For The Love Of It,” Wakefield takes the lead with his soulful voice while Boyd and James back him up. The group then shows off their humor with the lighthearted and jazzy “Up One Side” while “Four Roses” combines ‘90s country and Southern rock influences with a hint of old-time saloon piano. The album slows down with “Love Me When I’m Leaving,” a raw heartbreak tune led by James and complemented by balmy acoustic and steel guitar.
Other tracks include “Sugar Cane,” which puts the band’s country rock prowess on full display. The tune was co-written by Boyd, James LeBlanc and Brad Crisler, and it came out of a songwriting session in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
“We were almost making fun of hair bands when we came up with the song,” says Boyd. “Then when I brought it to the guys, they were like, ‘Dude, let’s take this and have some fun with it,’ so that’s pretty much it. It was just tongue-in-cheek and hopefully something fun, and luckily we were able to capture it that way.”
After “Sugar Cane,” Heaven Down Here wraps up with the uplifting “Darkest Sky” before segueing into the extended, encore version of “For The Love of It.”
In addition to reviving a sound that has been somewhat missing in country music, Texas Hill aims to bring back the concept of a band that sings together as one harmonious voice. As Boyd says, “it’s time for bands to come back,” and Heaven Down Here is this band’s first foray into completing that mission.
“I love to believe that just a few somewhat talented individuals getting together and writing music, making that music, and really keeping it as real as possible in regards to the way we record it and do it live is something that people not only are interested in, but that will grow,” says James. “Maybe there will be another time for things of this nature to appear other than in 1978.”