Ride Records

Walt Wilkins bookends Plenty with a Zen mantra (“Just Be”) and a psalm for gratitude embraced (“Between Midnight & Day”). At heart, a sweet Central Texas love letter (the wonderfully titled “A Farm-to-Market Romance”) anchors this truly masterful collection. “These are the fields and the hills that I love,” Wilkins sings. “If I ever leave, it’ll be just for heaven above.” Like those lines, the album title suggests serenity and contents confirm throughout. If only everyone could produce such inspired work from contentment. As is, this album can stand proudly when weighed against any great folk high watermark, but comparisons are entirely unnecessary. Wilkins’ eighth album – equal measures grace (“Hang on to Your Soul”) and grit (“Maybe Everybody Quit Cheatin’”) – is a singular work. Appropriate superlatives are endless: elegant (“Something Like Heaven”) and eloquent (“Like Strother Martin”), heartening (“Gray Hawk”) and hopeful (“Under This Cottonwood Tree (This Is It)”) only begin the list. As a writer, Wilkins cuts with exacting precision: No words are wasted, and everything simply fits. Additionally, Wilkins clearly understands production nuances. Like his sharp songwriting, he adds (“Rain All Night”) and subtracts (“Soft September Night”) precisely when needed. Add this to Wilkins’ list of blessings: with Plenty, he’s created one of the best Texas albums of the year.  — BRIAN T. ATKINSON