Back in 2016, Texas singer-songwriter Cody Sparks released Sinners and the Saved, a promising debut album filled with rural small town sketches that ventured out in the Great American West. He recently followed up with 4th of July, a strong four-song EP that sees Sparks hone in and make his mark as a songwriter. Sparks was raised in the small Texas Panhandle town of Perryton. It’s clear that that his narratives have been highly influenced by life out on the plains. That's namely come with a sense and appreciation of space. Sparks and company recorded 4th of July with Timothy Allen (lead guitar for Shane Smith & The Saints) and Jon Terpstra, a budding producer-engineer tag team down in Austin. With plenty of frontier fiddle and sharp-cutting guitar often setting the scene, Sparks digs deep with gritty vocals and gut wrenching lyrics. "Fourth of July" may sound as though it's going to be a barn-burning party-starter, but Sparks delivers a slow-paced heartbreaker that plays out like one side of a final phone call. There's a drunken sway to it that feels like the quietest final hours of a late night. It's dim lit like a lone front porch light for one last cigarette before bed. Still, it's "13 Folds”, his current single that's Sparks' best efforts. Much like a West Texas "Dress Blues," Sparks pays tribute to Marine Lance Cpl. Seth Huston, a Perryton native and friend who was killed while station in Iraq in 2004. Lines like "Time moves on but time moves slow" show that wounds heal slowly. It's as sobering and reflective a moment found in 2018. Sparks, who's father is a pastor, has tinges of old world hymnal ambience that permeates his delivery. At other times, there's western frontier edge and grit. It feels like an escape towards the coarse and rugged West that leans close to Shane Smith & The Saints, early Ryan Bingham and Red Shahan.
-- Thomas Mooney