Cauthen pursued that trade into young adulthood, showcasing at Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos and forming the duo Sons of Fathers, whose early albums were produced by Lloyd Maines. After the group ran its course, Cauthen set off on his own in 2016, recording MY GOSPEL partly in Muscle Shoals, AL.; The album made Rolling Stone’s list of Top 40 Country Records that year. 2018’s HAVE MERCY EP began his association with Bedford and featured contributions by other members of the Texas Gentlemen, and also led to Cauthen’s Grand Ole Opry debut as a solo artist on June 22, 2018.
The critically acclaimed ROOM 41, meanwhile, chronicled and exorcised a rough period in Cauthen’s life, marked by a romantic breakup, substance abuse, depression and anxiety issues. “My growing years were like going to college,” Cauthen confesses. “I just got screwed so many times by so many different people on this whole freakin’ journey. I had this void I was trying to fill in my heart, with booze or any type of, just, abuse. I made every stupid mistake you can make in the business, and in life, in order to learn ’em all.
“I don’t feel that hurt anymore. I’ve changed.”
Marriage helped, he says. So did cleaning house and restructuring the business operation that surrounded him. That allowed Cauthen to plunge into COUNTRY COMING DOWN with a lighter heart and wicked humor — one that allowed him to find the profound meaning in a “schmoozie bougie brouhaha.”
If you want to know what that sounds like, tuck into the album’s sonic array, an austere, sinewy attack that puts Cauthen’s vocals dead center in the ride. “We’ve really unleashed Big Velvet in this situation, which I love,” he says. Nowhere is that more true than “Country As Fuck,” with a taut groove and loping gait tailor made for a 21st century honky tonk. Cauthen, Bedford and Burt play with that template throughout COUNTRY COMING DOWN, punctuating “Caught Me At a Good Time” with a sharp guitar solo, “High Heels” with a tasteful Wurlitzer break and the satiristic “Country Clubbin'” with a disco beat and chorus of female backing vocals.
But just when you buy in — and happily convert — to Cauthen’s brand of unapologetic hedonism, the soul comes out. “Till The Day I Die” smoothes his raw heart with the promise of true and lasting love, while the stock-taking “Roll On Over” takes a wistful look in his rearview mirror. And “Country Coming Down” realizes a dream of calm — although not exclusive of the next sojourn with “Champagne & a Limo.”
I’m always on a quest, sonically,” Cauthen explains. “I was wanting to go at this just serving the song, more, ‘What does this call for?’ rather than worrying about genre or sonic palette or any certain sound. I had a lot of these songs brewing for a long time, and we just let them grow on their own.”
His muse fully engaged, Cauthen is looking towards doing more of that in the future, with a few conceptual ideas up his sleeve about what he might do next. No matter what direction he takes, however, he won’t be abandoning that cabin in the hills or the “Country Clubbin'” life; Cauthen will just be adding more to the mix he’s stirred together.
“It’s just about looking at yourself in the mirror and knowing that what you’ve done to this day has been in good standing, with good morals and a good compass in life, driven the right way,” he says. “Legacy is