"After several years' absence with members going off in their own various directions, Echolyn returned with a new offering. Cowboy Poems Free shows a decidedly more straightforward sound than their earlier days, while retaining the layered harmonies and often intricate phrasing for which the band is known. In many ways, this album strikes me as a worthy modern-day successor to The Band's work, a promenade of the American mythos part past and present, an examination that seems at once both of a particular time and universal.
"Texas Dust" is a powerhouse of an opener. Brett Kull's plaintive, everyman voice is the perfect harness for this tale of live-by-the-day Texas farmers trying to eke out a living while at the mercy of nature. From the forceful, offbeat main riff that drives the tune, to Kull's final awe-engulfed cry "the wind came on," this is my favorite track of the album. Ray Weston, now taking over bass duties for the band, provides vocals ranging from the Prohibition-defying, hedonistic "Swingin' the Ax" to the loneliness of "1729 Broadway" (if I recall correctly, the lyrics to this one are adapted from an actual letter of an ancestor). "High as Pride," seems to point the way towards the band's next release, Mei. A sharp observation here from Kull: "At 18 our convictions are hills on which we look/At 45 they're caves into which we hide."
The band takes one easy target liberty: urbane yuppie types in "Gray Flannel Suits," which is probably the least of the tracks, though I do like the line about "martini glasses that shimmer all weekend." Apart from that, this is pretty compelling music throughout, and the lyrics are consistently top-notch. Like Mei, well worth a listen." - Ground And Sky