Anthony Garcia’s debut album arrived with a serious asterisk.
“Acres of Diamonds” contains songs he’s been tinkering with for quite some time.
“People keep telling me they liked these songs … they’ve stood the test of time,” Garcia says. “I know them well. They’ve taken on a life of their own.”
The 2020 release’s tracks aren’t easy to categorize, careening from lush string arrangements and country cadences to a whiff of arena rock. He embraces the term, “Cinematic American,” to capture the album’s essence. Think a traditional “verse, chorus, bridge” template with a “classical influence,” connecting to his rich musical background.
The songs “create an atmosphere, a mood … as opposed to something like a three-minute pop song,” Garcia says.
It’s easy to imagine numbers like “Santa Rosa” or “The Wind” gracing a Taylor Sheridan TV show. The disc’s plaintive strings and stirring vocals all but demand a “Yellowstone”-style closeup.
He calls it “using music as a character,” but he’s happy to let listeners paint the canvases inspired by his work.
The Texas native draws directly from his roots, even if he once tried to distance himself from them.
“Everyone wants to leave their home and explore the world … but the further I got, the closer I felt to [Texas],” says Garcia, who trekked to New York City and South Korea before heading back home at last. “Your heart longs for something you love.”
Garcia genre hops as adroitly as, say, Elvis Costello. It’s how he grew up, absorbing everything from Buddy Holly to Willie Nelson. His Lubbock, Texas roots had him sampling rockabilly to old country classics, too. That’s in addition to a passion for classical music, a happy addiction.
Embracing as many musical formats as possible has always been part of his artistic DNA.
”I look at genres of music like a chef looks at different styles of cooking,” he says. “You take from it what’s important to you and bring it back to create your own music.”
Garcia has been playing live music through much of the pandemic, thanks to Texas’s mostly hands-off approach.
“There were six weeks where we were all wearing masks and wearing gloves to pump our gas, then we said, ‘screw this,’” he recalls. “Old venues said, ‘come out and play. If we get in trouble with the state we’ll get in trouble.’”
“The only places you really see it [now] is Austin proper,” he adds.
The singer/songwriter lives outside of Austin these days, and he feels creatively right at home.
“It’s a lot like New York City, L.A. or Brooklyn, in the sense that it’s a place where musicians and creative people are drawn to,” he says. “You can go out and hear wonderful music every night of the week if you wanted to, lots of times for free.”
The downside? “It’s hard to make a living,” he notes, with “under-compensated” musicians struggling to pay the bills.
It may explain why the city’s music scene is expanding, “growing in every direction,” he adds.
Garcia is currently working on his “Acres” follow-up, an album focusing on Spanish-style guitars. He’s got a little help this time around, though.
He’s currently assembling a home studio to complete that album, allowing him to record “whenever I want.”
That, plus access to one of the nation’s most creatively fertile cities, means Garcia’s fans will have plenty to look forward to in 2022 and beyond.