It's hard to pinpoint the moment that songs are born, the day casual hummers become singers or scribblers become songwriters. Rayland Baxter certainly can't, and he wouldn't want to. Though he grew up in Nashville to the sounds of his father's pedal steel, he didn't dream of being a rock star. He loved music, of course, but he liked other things, too: being outside, playing sports, working at the bait shop to make spare change. He'd always just let things settle into place naturally, following his gut from Tennessee to Colorado to Israel and back again, not knowing that when he returned home he'd have a handful of songs and the knowledge that, at the end of the day, he didn't want to do anything else but make music. He leads a life without reigns, his work always echoing the ease in which it came to be.

“All of my music has come in a very natural way, by following the organic process of life and letting it just happen,” he says. “I jumped my fair share of ships, and the pieces came together slowly, not by study or design.” The result is a record inspired by a life lived, not one struggling to inspire life. “Down the mountains and the valleys like the breeze,” he sings on “the mtn song,” “we're going where we want to go, doing anything we please.” He's done just that, writing songs that are reflections of what he's seen, felt and lived; the metaphors found in the hills, the slow strums born at home but blossomed across the sea.

His songs are a calming force for anyone looking for change, for love, or wanting to walk in a different direction—because it was his own quest for all those things that motivated the music. “I had nothing to write about until I was 25. I had to live through a lot,” he says, “and I when I sing I don't hold back. I'll cry on stage if I came to it. It's an emotional release for me, and there's no makeup on it. It puts me at ease, and that's what I hope it will do for those who listen.” Down the mountains and the valleys, like the breeze.


THE AUDIOTREE MUSIC FESTIVAL LINE-UP