Mark Willenborg is unvarnished country, through and through. Cut from the same cloth as greats like George Strait and Waylon Jennings, fans of classic country will feel right at home with the impending release of Cold Beer and Country Music (due 4 December). In the meantime, the Austin artist premieres leading track ‘Honky-Tonk Hallelujah’ with For Folk’s Sake. Folk-adjacent as it may be, one defining characteristic of country of this cloth and folk of the same era is a knack for bonafide storytelling. Willenborg’s latest dutifully transports us to a retro honky-tonk bar, setting the scene for his character’s low-down, wistful soliloquy.
“I wrote the song on a lark last year when I had a house concert that just happened to be on Easter Sunday,” says Willenborg. “So I thought, ‘I’ll just write a honky-tonk hymn.’ I love wordplay, so it was fun to weave religious language and imagery into this world of neon and steel guitar. It is very tongue-in-cheek, but I think some of the best country songs are.”
Words by: Jonathan Frahm