Rand Reynolds

Warhorse (2014)

Warhorse is Vol.3 of the Hillbilly Noir trilogy

Hardcore (2014)

Hardcore is Vol.2 of a Hillbilly Noir trilogy

Velvet Handcuffs (2014)

   Some stories are best told by one man-one guitar. And "Velvet Handcuffs" is a fully fledged beast proving Reynolds is one of the best at it. He pushes his guitars into a full-on powerful acoustic mix linked with his trademark Hillbilly Noir tales of sadness and alienation. The music is stark, deliberate and unadorned. Reynolds is, in himself, his own category of music. 

   Recorded in cheap hotels from Nashville, Indiana to Nashville, Tennessee, and other obscure small town weigh-in stations of residence, it is nothing short of remarkable what he’s been able to do, both artistically and technically, with a standalone 8-track recorder in the darkness of his own head in the wee hours of the morning. Reynolds is fearless in dredging up those demons and ghosts that apparently continue to haunt him today. 

   Lyrically, he is at his best when eulogizing failed relationships, loneliness, dreams passed by and the failure to act. Whom we loved, who failed us, and what it all means in the face of our own inevitable demise. But his vision is not apocalyptic: It’s the process of learning to accept our regrets and disappointments while moving forward. Reynolds’ love of those Appalachian murder ballads and tales of lost love -- those gut-wrenching, gruesome, Celtic-born parables designed to steer sinners from indulging in their darker whims -- have left Reynolds to proclaim that death of the flesh or broken hearts do not necessarily come with a lesson ... sometimes it just comes. And yes love is, well, sometimes two-faced and selfish, and can go bad … real bad, real fast by uttering a single misplaced word at just the right moment. And that tortured sound of frustration echoes over and over in his music. But this volatility can yield tremendous rewards for the listener. 
   Reynolds' writing is unusually brutal and honest in “Velvet Handcuffs.” At times, harrowing. Most singer/songwriters paint lyrical landscapes with a familiar brush. Not Reynolds. He's created an archetypal genre pounding out stories with a big hammer and nails like a construction worker holding a set of blueprints. His guitar style is clean and bold, especially when doing single-string flat-picking rather than strumming chords. And he uses odd tunings to achieve a uniquely low, warm tube amp tone that effectively compliments his baritone voice. 
   Reynolds has been silent for 3 years. This 12th record since 2005 has been a remarkable journey of growth in his songwriting. He sounds more sophisticated and poignant than in his past work. But then, Reynolds has never attempted to live up to the times but, rather, just content with capturing the moment of memories. “Velvet Handcuffs” is Vol. 1 of a Hillbilly Noir trilogy to be released this Fall. 

Vessel (2011) - 24-track Double CD

Without a doubt -- hands down -- this is Rand Reynolds' best work to date. The 24-track, double cd Vessel is even more powerful, more perceptive than any of his past cd's. After waiting for more than a year now, Reynolds' haunting and forlorn Hillbilly Noir genre has become stylized, individualistic and intimate, while fine tuning this signature stark sound: dark, threatening and dangerous. And Reynolds firmly pulls the trigger on this new cd. His emotional vulnerability and "bare it all" penetrating attitude are elevated to a new sensuality and savvy where the blurred lines between love and lust, birth and death, sane and insane are explored, deconstructed, reassembled, and proving that, sometimes, what’s broke can't always be fixed – or even should be. Lyrically, Reynolds’ characters struggle inwardly to co-exist in the gray moral shadows of their footsteps echoing in a vacant alley on a dark, rainy night while moving headstrong into life’s underbelly. Musically, Reynolds sticks with his acoustic guitar to spin catchy melodic phrasing as a rhythmic rustic backdrop for his Edgar Allen Poe-like lyrics. As Reynolds ventures into the dark exterior, he has the ability to find a kernel of undeniable truth, some spark of humanity in even the most dire of circumstances that attempt to explain the complex and confusing nature of the inner man – no matter how bizarre or brutal this might be. Reynolds, once again, has embraced his journey of self-discovery that is bold and rare among songwriters today.

BEAT (2010)

Rand Reynolds’ BEAT stays true to his own vision by advancing , reinventing and deepening his own artistry by temporarily adopting styles that others have built careers on. And this CD could prove to be his bravest of all. At least as far as the arrangements are concerned. Reynolds is outside his comfort zone here, but he easily adapts. Reynolds is, after all, in most underground country circles, just another man with an acoustic guitar at open mike night. The songs still reek of desperation, danger and disappointment. In his world, hope and desperation go hand in hand, but he knows full well that his dreams of easy deliverance are empty, two sided and vague. Overall, BEAT is another collection of unfulfilled dreams with little chance of grace or salvation. It is as deep and unsettling as any of his past recordings once you get past the rock mix format. Every line of verse still cannot hide the fact that there’s no peace to be found in his darkness. He continues to ask a lot of questions and encourages the listener to search for the answers he himself is still hungering for. BEAT is as deep and unsettling as any of his acoustic efforts to date, and an important addition to his Hillbilly Noir journey. 

Black Swan (May 2009)

Acoustic/electric country roots inspired by music played at open mike nights, small clubs and various venues throughout the Midwest.  

Lonesome and Midnight (March 2009)

Rand Reynolds' music comes from a different place than most alt country songwriters. He has rapidly captured the attention of music lovers outside the broad umbrella that is known as country music today. With his 2009 cd, he continues to shock, offend, charm, twist and amaze us with his twisted blend of Hillbilly Noir music. In this "Lonesome and Midnight" cd, his angst-ridden convictions fueled by lyrical hostilities and melodic guitar arrangements reek of an original unsophisticated nature that only works to his advantage. There's no denying Reynolds' music is gripping, with a full-steam ahead sense of urgency purposely designed this time around to attract greater listeners more familiar with an old school country rock beat. No, it won't be burning up the radio charts, but it shouldn't have to -- It's not an album for the casual pop country audience. Unfortunately, for us, he always seems to run out of disc space before he runs out of ideas.

Dark Passenger (September 2008) - Double CD

Rarely does an Americana artist dig so deeply and stare so anxiously into his own personal abyss that the listener almost hopes that the artist never finds rest and continues to search for what makes us all do what we do. An extremely somber, sobering portrait of life in the shadows ... but beneath its rustic melancholic tones and graphic language, there still lies hope. 20 tracks/Runtime ~101 minutes.

Patient Master (2007) - CD

Indiana's uncompromising singer/songwriter Rand Reynolds has hurled his Hillbilly Noir format furiously forward with yet another cd that is successfully ambitious in its scope, and may well be an aesthetic watermark for this new and, obviously, driven artist. Patient Master, with its underlying menace and desolate overtones, is frightening, revelatory, and is clearly carved from Reynolds' own clear visions and startling observations.

11.09.07 CDBABY review/ author: William E Handy Jr: Rand Reynolds seems intent on keeping his side of the street clean and clearing away the wreckage of his past. This is a man who is not afraid to admit what he did wrong, and then make public gut-wrenching amends through his music. You will hear brutal honesty similar to Johnny Cash’s pleadings near the end of his life. Every song that Rand Reynolds records seems to be an invitation to witness a past disaster or share in a future hope in Rand’s life. Sometimes I feel like he’s making a deep confession and it’s me listening behind the screen. Other times I feel he is asking me to watch his back and bolster his courage. His guitar playing is unrestrained with emotional timing shifts, changes in intensity and muscular bending of notes. His playing is in honest partnership with his vocal skills… You will experience firsthand the raw emotion that Rand Reynolds is so bravely putting down. Rand has already produced an impressive body of work. After becoming familiar with all of it, I am amazed at the consistent brutal honesty and high emotional content.

American X (2007) - Girls, Guns and Guts

This particular collection of Reynolds' new Hillbilly Noir is primarily minimalist songs trimmed down to the bone with tight well-timed boomer acoustic guitar rhythms. Reynolds' material accents an underlying darkness with a stark twang.  AmericanX is groundbreaking in both style and character.  

Human Stain (2005)

Deliciously dark, inventive, hardcore country roots underground music that's destined to raise the bar for the future of alternative country. Rand Reynolds creates a unique collection of lyrical tunes that probe the frailties of the human condition, celebrating those second chances in life that make things right again -- or not. Country roots with a rocker bite, Reynolds delivers inventive power acoustic music guaranteed to stick in the brain and gnaw away. Edgier and more pushy than mainstream alternative country artists, Reynolds relies on sweeping guitar strokes and solid punchy rhythms to skillfully weave a refreshing blend of Americana music. Make no mistake, this man has done his homework.

Scorched Earth (2006)

With his 4th cd of Modern Hillbilly music, Rand Reynolds continues his journey to connect the heart to the head. This guitarist’s lightning maturity and sophistication as a songwriter strengthens with Scorched Earth as his baritone delivery introduces new emotional elements that are convincing and contagious. His signature sound is patently potent -- acoustic guitars rumble about in ominously barren musical arrangements that, on the surface, are simplistic in origin, but with an underlying level of complexity masked by the songs’ straightforward melodies. Reynolds’ style is not a manufactured sound, to be sure; his harsh sparse tone is readily recognizable and as close to the listener as this man’s own DNA. He records as if he’s playing to a crowd of one in a perpetual wringing out of a dusty tired heart. At times, this material is unsettling, even horrific perhaps, but ultimately uplifting and cleansing despite a dirge-like morose undercurrent. This is a formidable weighty collection of 18 songs, a portfolio almost, of edgy well-conceived works. Reynolds' lyrics are meditative -- not in a fashionable New Age sense -- but rather, short stories about how human beings assemble their own personality puzzles. For listeners, it's a voyeuristic spiritual romance from a provoking artist who's just begun to share the songs he thought he could never sing. Scorched Earth is not country, exactly, not folk, not rock, but all these things, and promises to be a prelude to Reynolds' own defining moment in Americana music.

Midwestern Hayride (2006)

Indiana guitarist/songwriter Rand Reynolds' continues familiar themes in his new cd, "Midwestern Hayride" -- bad love, unfaithfulness, death, murder, technology gone awry -- but these new tunes shake the speakers with a clever skillful mix of acoustic music, 1960's rockabilly and modern country pop/rock. Raw, powerful, and yes, crude, at times, but above all, extremely effective. 

Black Raven (2005)

First Reynolds cd (formerly called "Modern Hillbilly") recorded in Syracuse, NY.  Digital re-working of a direct-to-disc recording.  12 nice, tight tracks, plus new artwork, available for the first time at CDBaby.