Over the better part of the last four decades, Monte Warden and his songs have ebbed and flowed through the Austin music scene like a river changing course over time, influencing the city’s musical landscape as much as he’s been influenced by it. From the inception of The Wagoneers to having his songs cut by the likes of George Strait, Warden’s journey has taken quite a few turns but never meandered. Set for release on June 19th, 2020, Monte Warden & The Dangerous Few, the new album from Monte and his ace band of Austin musicians finds Warden chasing a sound he’d never quite nailed down before now—the golden era of songwriting from the likes of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Peggy Lee, and Johnny Mercer—all while showcasing the deft musicianship of The Dangerous Few; Mas Palermo on drums, Erik Telford on horns, Brent Wilson (of the Wagoneers) on bass, and T. Jarrod Bonta on piano. “This record with the Dangerous Few is exactly what we do live,” says Warden. “We cut the whole album live in two days. It wouldn’t have been true if it had been a bunch of overdubs, with fixes and tunings. There’s none of that on this record.”
Monte Warden & The Dangerous Few opens with “Black Widow,” a greasy trad-pop number accentuated by the smokey tones of muted trumpet and washy cymbals. Warden recalls, “This was the first song written for this project that fully encapsulated everything I envisioned: slinky, sexy, sophisticated and urbane.” In addition to the songs and instrumentation, Palermo and Telford share production credit with Tim Palmer (whose credits include U2, Pearl Jam, David Bowie) and Brandi Warden (multi-platinum music publisher, Monte’s co-writer, and wife). Visual artist Derek Yaniger provided the retro cover illustration.
“Martini” rollicks into the picture next, beautifully exemplifying the spirit of the project. “As we first started playing shows, new fans would come up & enthusiastically ask, ‘What do you call this music?!’ recalls Warden. “We described it as ‘martini music’.” When Brandi suggested they write a big, up-tempo ode to the martini, the crew jumped in a car heading to Floyd Domino’s house and did their best “to just get the hell outta this song’s way.” The album continues, enthusiastically dancing around a common theme without being repetitive or tiresome, giving way to a big, gritty New Orleans burlesque feel in “Joy.” “When I was signed to A&M Records with The Wagoneers, I was given Herb Alpert’s (the label’s co-founder) entire catalog,” says Warden. “I was fascinated by the fact that each album featured one burlesque number; his thinking being that that cut would get played in the strip clubs! ‘Joy’ is my tribute to Mr. Alpert and those song arrangements.”
Monte Warden & The Dangerous Few continues to run the gamut of styles within a style. From the sweet waltz of “Anything But Love” to the album-closing “Wrong Side” which Warden describes as “something I felt could have been pitched to Sinatra for his 1955 quintessential album In The Wee Small Hours,” this album is a picture of Warden and his band at their free-est, moving where the river carries them and leaving an impression as they drift by. “For the first time in my career, there was no roadmap for me to follow, so I just allowed the songs to take me where they wanted to go,” says Warden, gratefully. “I feel this album captures this moment perfectly.”
Be sure to tune into the “Monte Warden Feel Good Hour” every Friday at 7pm CDT via https://www.facebook.com/montewarden.
More About Monte Warden:
Warden has reinvented himself before. At 15, he launched a career as a honky-tonk performer, then cultivated an international following with The Wagoneers, and later landed a solo deal on a Nashville major label. But by 1999, that label had gone under, the Wagoneers had bitterly disbanded, and everything that was written about his career seemed to be in past tense. Warden turned that narrative around when George Strait’s superb rendition of his song, “Desperately”, became a BMI Million-Air Award-winning hit. At a time when most artists of his generation were rehashing their greatest hits, Warden was making his mark as a songwriter, even when the music industry got turned upside down. Although producing projects for other acts and playing in songwriter-in-the-rounds, it wasn’t until 2011, when the Wagoneers reunited for their Texas Music Hall of Fame induction, that Warden – who was already inducted as a solo artist -- had the epiphany that he’d been missing the stage. Revitalized, he’s been delivering shows regularly with the Wagoneers since 2011 and the Dangerous Few since 2016.