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Flores rides the wave in one great night

The Royale, Boston, November 13, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The wake of Zach Bryan may just be turning into a tidal wave. One obvious disciple was his frequent touring mate Charles Wesley Godwin. And now we have Wyatt Flores among new artists waving the flag.

And if Flores' headlining gig was any indication, Bryan and Godwin will be in excellent company.

Flores made clear that his songs were downers, although they didn't necessarily come across that way. And it's highly improbable that the nearly 800 in attendance didn't leave feeling uplifted anyway even after Flores closed with "Astronaut," about an ex-girlfriend, who made the right choice in moving on after four years with him. The Oklahoma native said he choose music over her. Flores said she was married now and better off, but, hey, he got a great song out of it.

However, nothing was sadder than when Flores talked after playing The Fray's "How to Save a Life." It was incredibly personal. He recounted how his grandfather committed suicide in July with no one seeing it coming. Flores urged people to get help if needed.

In talking about "Wildcat," Flores said, "This one out here is no secret anymore, but if you haven't heard it, this is the saddest sad that we even make Clem (Braden) play harmonica on it." He said the song was about getting kicked out of every club while in high school and "I was rejected from everybody else, but you only need to have one mascot and that's what I was." Somehow, the song didn't sound as sad as Flores made it out to be.

Flores was a decidedly unassuming, easy going front man. His singing and presentation of the songs was consistently excellent. He infused the songs with the requisite emotion.

It sure helped to have such a finely-tuned band. Fiddle player Kenzie Miracle and guitarist Austin Yankunas were particular standouts. Miracle got off to a tentative start on the opening "Opening Bottles," but that was the last time that would happen over the next 95 minutes. Yankunas hit the right notes time and again, giving that much more spark to the material.

Flores also was no stage hog, receding to the back on occasion and letting his mates do their thing in song after song.

Flores closed out the regular set with the muscular "West of Tulsa," about a musician's life of picking up fans at concerts. That's not what Flores has in mind when it comes to relationships however when he sang "I just want to be somebody." He sure is more than that after nights like this.

It's hard to imagine Flores getting all that much better. Given his limited touring, though, one suspects that's all about to change. Like his Red Dirt-styled compadres such as Bryan, Flores wears the mantle quite proudly. The wave continues strong thanks to musicians like Flores.

Carter Faith, a Nashville-based artist by way of North Carolina, opened the night with a guitarist accompanying her. Faith's calling card is her voice as she showed great dexterity with her vocals soaring at times without milking it (and therefore the crowd).

And while not the same high level as Flores, she, too, had some well-written songs, including "Greener Pastures." She's not cut from the same musical cloth as Flores in that her songs were more commercial and mainstream country sounding.

Faith showed growth from last time she was in the area in March opening for Ingrid Andress. Faith has room to grow, but she is headed in the right direction.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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