I Stand Alone
Red River Entertainment

Brandon Jenkins is an artist unafraid. As impactful of a statement as last year’s remarkably vulnerable Through the Fire was, it’s clear he still had a lot more to open up about and wasn’t about to leave his loyal fanbase waiting too long for another heart-to-scarred-heart chat. I Stand Alone is as organically beautiful an album as any artist from Texas or Oklahoma is likely to produce in 2014. That title’s no lie, either: although he did co-write a couple of the album’s 12 songs with others, every track here features nothing but Jenkins’ own acoustic guitar, harmonica, and impeccably warm baritone. And truly, that’s all they need. While Jenkins, a touring veteran of well over a decade, can burn a stage down with the best of them, the tunes where his challenging thoughts command center stage are the difference makers here. Songs such as the harmonica-enriched “Until December,” the gut-wrenching “Perfect World,” and the gorgeous, gently plucked “This Road I Travel” showcase Jenkins at his absolute best: sharing his hard-earned life lessons and tortured-soul reflections with intimate authority and absolute trust in both his own voice and his listeners. — KELLY DEARMORE