This font is called Tahoma. Normally, I’m a Courier New man, but I chose this one because it sounds like how a cowboy might say “Tulsa, Oklahoma” with a mouthful of chaw. 

I once met a guy from Oklahoma, fella called Eli. Oil worker, on contract at the refinery in my hometown. Part Cherokee, part Choctaw he was, but the only outward indication of his Native American blood that my uncultured eyes could percieve was the rope of thick black hair fashioned in a ponytail. An Oklahoma boy living in Texas, he was not one for frills. You won’t find silver spurs on his boots but a keen eye will notice that his footwear is of the highest-quality, whether steel-toed shit-kickers or riding boots in tribute to the vaqueros of the 1800’s, the outlaws that became the original cowboys. “I never put a price on anything that comes between me and the ground.” he says, holding up a thumb then two fingers. “Boots, mattress, tires.” Along gleaming streams of brown tobacco juice, he spits advice like a modern day sage from the planes, a spirit guide for our modern times.


When you first meet Eli Howard, you get the sense that you know him from somewhere or some time before. He reminds me of the dude in high school that was cool with everybody, defying the universal laws of teenage society with his boyish grin, intertwining himself within every clique and entrenched as a favorite student of many of the teachers. You’d see him every weekend, a friendly apparition in the distance, beckoning you from subdivision McMansion house parties to reservation bonfires under the stars. From Tulsa to Little Sahara State Park, everyone who meets Eli wants to be his friend, and that suits Eli just fine because he’s the friendly type. He’s the guy that will invite you to the pub for a game of pool and run the table on you for an hour. Then, while you’re trying to figure out how he made the eight ball go three rails and drop in the corner pocket, he’s up at the bar paying your tab before dipping out the backdoor in the coolest Irish Goodbye your sore eyes ever done seen.

Oh and he shreds on the guitar. Oh and he can sing. Oh and his lyrics are sweet and clever and fun and meaningful. Eli Howard is a throwback to that great 90s Country sound. There’s a friendly charm to his music that recalls the likes of Garth Brooks. The music pops but it doesn’t go Pop-Country. There’s a kinship to guys like Sturgill Simpson and Shooter Jennings and Justin Townes Earle, aritsts born of rebel rock royalty. You can sense the blood of Old Country running through Eli’s songs but he pays homage without sacrificing himself, or the here and now, in honor of those spirits. Beating with the heart of a true cowboy, he hears the crickets and the rhythm of dusk and echoes of eternity, the rooster’s crow at Monday’s dawn saying “Last night was a blast, now it’s time to shove on your boots and get back to work.”


The entire album is terrific but if you need a few morsels to whet your whistle, my top three songs from the album would be Headin Back to Tulsa, I Love My Friends, and the absolutely swoon-worthy Someone I Used to Love. Us Emo Kids, we love some sad country music. It speaks to our lovelorn Midwest hearts, broken just as often by horse girls in cow print leather skirts as scene chics with their nose-rings and tongue studs.

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