As a child, songwriter Aaron Kyle spent spent a lot of time on the road, staring out the window of a Greyhound bus. His mother didn’t fly, and she didn’t take trains, which meant trips from California to visit her family in Kentucky where all done via the bus system. You hear echoes of those journeys in Greyhound Blues, a country noir by Kyle’s band Geronimo Getty, and you see visual elements from those drives in the ten short films that accompany the album.
“Travel has been a big part of my life,” Kyle says. The songwriter says he “grew up” on the road, shaped by his experiences driving cross-country on his own, and touring as a member of the rock band Le Switch. The album, Kyle says, is “kind of about those adventures and experiences.”
This month finds Geronimo Getty taking on a month-long stint at Los Angeles honky-tonk the Escondite and releasing Greyhound Blues on vinyl. More than a simple travelog, the record strings together multiple narratives about a man “easily given to violence.” The record is full of dramatic tension: “Mister James” evokes a jealous lover over distorted country riffs and barroom piano, “Devil’s Theft” finds Kyle’s voice cloaked in fuzz. Many of the songs, like the sashaying “Dancing In The Morning Light” and the Bakersfield-styled “On A Plane,” concern running away – escaping desperate circumstances. “In the last few years I’ve definitely had my own bouts of trying to run away from my own bullshit,” Kyle says.
But while Kyle imbues the album with a dark sentiment, it shines the most when he embraces his romantic, nostalgic side: the blustery “Wild Heart” features gorgeous pedal steel courtesy Brian Whelan, the late night ballad “Where Are You Tonight” features vulnerable couplets like “Something about the way you touch me/everything can kinda slow down,” and the record closes with a celebratory, big hearted cover of Guy Clarke’s “Anyhow I Love You.”
“Some of the songs are really personal to me,” Kyle says. Perhaps the title track is the most close to home, and also the most touching. Those bus rides across the desert and into the heartland shaped Kyle and his future songs.
“When I was a kid we lived in an apartment,” Kyle says. “Going to Kentucky, there was all this space. My aunt has a pond in her backyard, we would go and get catfish, chase frogs around. There’d be thunderstorms. It was a whole environment I had no idea existed. I remember it being a wonderland.
And you can hear that in the uncluttered, unfussy arrangements on Greyhound Blues, mostly cut live in the studio. You can hear that spacious landscapes in Kyle’s head. There’s lingering darkness, but also “big open skies.”
“I like to imagine myself in those spaces,” Kyle says, and in his songs you can imagine yourself there too. words / j woodbury