Painted Desert

Painted Desert

 Nashville, Tennessee, USA

We're a little bit Willie and a little bit Frank. (That's Nelson and Sinatra, mind you.)


It started with a telephone call from one friend to another. One friend was seeking direction and the other thought the solution might lie in a song. Heidi threw out the idea to Austin that they might try writing a song together. "So we got together later that week. This was early February of 2011. She brought me some song she hadn't finished and we just kind of worked it out. And then we wrote a few more. Heidi had a show coming up and she thought we should do it together."

That first show was at a bar in East Nashville. They continued to write together, and as the songs accumulated, they played shows billed as either Austin Manuel or Heidi Feek - all the while knowing they were now heading in the same direction.

By April they had enough songs to record a full-length record. They called JD Tiner to engineer the recordings, and decided to take a week to record most of their debut record. The recording location was at the Tiner's remote cabin in Smithville, Tennessee. "The whole thing has been very organic. very natural, very family-oriented. During the week at the cabin, the family vibe was manifested in family dinners every night after the sun went down. Girlfriends coming up and hanging out. It was intense - we were pulling over 17 hour days - but each night before bed we'd sit out on the back porch, shoot JD's grandfather's revolver into the dark woods, drink a High Life, smoke some cigarettes, and try to think of band names. And then someone would leave the back porch and sneak up to the master bedroom, which served as the control room, and listen to the work we had done that day. Then we'd all be up there ready to go to bed so we could wake up the next day and do it all again," Austin recalls.

At that point the two were still without a band name, but as the rest of the story goes, it just sort of happened. A friend suggested it and they stuck with it. "But I think it represents us well. Our songs are folky and stripped down and very song-driven, but also embellished musically in an impressionistic way." The Heidi Feek/Austin Manuel dynamic is perhaps best showcased in the song Yours. "When I write, I generally start with an instrument," says Austin. "I remember being drawn to music at first as a child because I thought it felt like another language. You could feel so much from the sounds created by the instruments. You could feel the tension or relief or hope or sorrow - not necessarily by what someone was singing, but through the instrumentation. And I think Heidi grew up driving around in the car with her country songwriter dad and his 1950's hairdo listening to how a singer would play around with different words." Yours features the strengths of both songwriters. Good, simple lyrics, but also a lot of tension musically.

Heidi and Austin are still saving their money to finish what they've started in the recording and pressing process, working their service industry jobs in and around Nashville to support their Painted Desert endeavor. But in the near future, the two are hoping to release the material they recorded in April 2011 and maybe come play in a town near you.


Take Me Home LP (coming soon)