The Southern Renaissance
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The Southern Renaissance

Dallas, Texas, United States

Dallas, Texas, United States
Alternative Americana




"Support Local (Country) Music: Four North Texas Albums You Need"

This isn't necessarily a new record (released in September 2011), but the band has been seen and heard more around town lately, and not enough has been said about their latest album, No Better Time.The Donner-led five piece provides a smooth record filled with the kind of folk-tinged country-rock that recalls a chilled-out, Laurel Canyon studio session where the only thing more important than the music are the vibes in the room. - Dallas Observer

"Album of the Week: NO BETTER TIME by Michael Donner & the Southern Renaissance"

For our first album review after Thanksgiving, we give you the musical feast that is No Better Time by Michael Donner & the Southern Renaissance. Brimming with creative musical ararngements and instrumentations, No Better Time serves up a thinking fan's casserole of tasty alt-country. Like Ryan Adams and The Civil Wars, Michael Donner and band deliver introspective lyrics and melodic arrangements. With lines like, "I go down to the big creek, I get down upon my knees. I pray, Lord, won't you change a man like me." from Tall Trees, it's clear that Michael puts some thought into his lyrics. And his voice delivers those lyrics with a sweetly melodic rasp. Like a pretzel M&M, he finds that perfect mix of salty and sweet. On Arms of California, he yearns for the Golden State like a lost lover, "watching days turn into weeks, I don't think looking back is wasted time." He continues the balladeering on the delightful daydream, Slip Away, and the romantic confessional, Watching You. But for me some of the finest moments on this album are when Michael and company break out the jangling guitars and shift into second gear. Songs like, Living Free, You Really Got Me, and Been a Long Time are all great midtempo numbers. They're joyful without being raucous. They celebrate so much more than the temporary escape of weekend overindulgence, these songs are a tribute to the simple joys of freedom, nature, and solid relationships. In Been a Long Time, Michael reminds us to, "forget about the bad times and think about the good times; Lord you know we'll be all right." With the world's current state of affairs, there may be No Better Time for that message! - Family Reunion Country

"Michael Donner & The Southern Renaissance - No Better Time"

Just under the wire for 2011, Michael Donner introduces himself on his first solo album.No Better Time. What an introduction! Donner is certainly going to take listeners by surprise when they discover this collection of well crafted songs. This is not only one of the best under the radar releases of the year, it is one of the best releases period.

Donner is from Dallas, but he recorded the album in Alabama. More specifically it was created at the fabled Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Having a Southern Renaissance in Muscle Shoals is a perfect place considering the plethora of Southern Rock, Country and Soul classics that have been recorded there. Although Donner’s music is more of a virtuosity of styles and influences than a renaissance, it is a well crafted work of art by any definition. The album is a mix of Rock, Jam Band, Country and alt-country. However, no song is represented by a single style. Each song is a blend of influences. Whether up-tempo or more subdued, there is no doubt that a talented and emerging songwriter carefully arranged each song.

No Better Time is an exceptional debut release. Michael Donner has set the bar high for himself, but there is no doubt that he is a truly gifted artist with more to offer in the future. - Twangville


Still working on that hot first release.



As frontman Michael Donner entered the Dallas music scene in 2011, he had partnered up with old friends Eric Pearson and Jackson Giles to help bring some of his songs to life and get them out in the open. The trio put their heads down, drawing from influences such as Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan, and The Band, and they constructed a cohesive Americana/Alt-Country album that took them to a studio in historic Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Michael Donner & The Southern Renaissance's debut album, "No Better Time", was engineered and produced by Ben Tanner (touring keyboardist with The Alabama Shakes) and was released in September 2011. The album earned them high marks from the local music scene, being deemed "not only one of the best under the radar releases of the year, [but] one of the best releases period." (Chip Frazier, Twangville). The Dallas Observer even listed it as one the "Four North Texas Albums You Need". Furthermore, they were nominated for the Dallas Observer Music Awards 2012 as Best Country Act.

Since that release, the group added a full-time rhythm section with new members John Aisner (drums) and Blake Butler (bass). Riding on the popularity of their debut album and by their memorable and energetic live performances, the group has been given the opportunity to provide direct support for major artists such as Dr. Dog, The Civil Wars, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Heartless Bastards, Wayne Hancock, Milo Greene, Dylan LeBlanc, Will Hoge, The Wheeler Brothers, Kevin Eubanks, and Junior Brown. With a full time five-piece band, the group has undertaken a much more collaborative writing process and are preparing to release the full group's debut E.P in spring 2013. They are now known only as The Southern Renaissance.