County singer-songwriter Carson McHone is one of the hottest rising stars in America and has garnered five-star reviews from prestigious American music magazine Rolling Stone.
The artist, based in Austin, Texas, is set to headline The Blue Lamp on Sunday to promote second album Carousel.
Out now, it is an album that pushes the boundaries of country music as McHone incorporates influences that include The Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and American novelist Thomas Wolf.
She said: “There was a time when I wanted to champion traditional country.
“That was mostly because I wasn’t hearing it in what was being called ‘country’.
“I think a lot of roots-influenced artists feel the need to defend tradition in this way.
“Today I want to do more with the form, push myself past where I understand it to be.”
McHone is the latest artist to emerge from the fertile music city of Austin that has already produced influential bands and musicians such as Daniel Johnston, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Scratch Acid, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and The Black Angels.
Years before Rolling Stone was praising McHone’s rule-breaking roots music, the singer was playing tiny bars in Austin such as The White Horse and The Hole In the Wall when just 16 years old. It was a raw education.
Those experiences and the characters she encountered during those formative years have seeped into her music on the poignant Carousel.
As well as the ghost of those characters from her past, the songs also explore the depths of McHone’s psyche as the lyrics are confessional and biographical.
She said: “I was a kid when I landed those residencies.
“I wasn’t even old enough to be in those bars and they became a home to me.
“I would find myself hanging out in places and taking a backseat and just sitting in the corner and watching things happen.
“Doing that in a bar, you see things in the shadows that, from a young age, you realise, this is not a party all the time. People are here for a lot of different reasons.
“It’s a dark thing when a bar becomes your home.”
Carousel was recorded in Nashville with producer Mike McCarthy who has worked with Austin bands And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead and Spoon.
McHone said: “Carousel comes from a lyric off my last record, a song called City Cry.
“It says ‘Like pennies to a wishing well I’ll ride this carousel but the painted ponies never change their place.
“The title Carousel acknowledges and embraces the fact that I revisit some of my earlier songs, and I hope illustrates that in doing so I was able to push beyond my roots.”