Born and raised in Baltimore, Whalen Nash has had an on again, off again relationship with his home town. The seemingly contradictory impulses of wanting to get as far away as possible from his roots, while simultaneously yearning to return, fuels the creative spark that informs the lives of the people and places that populate his folksy solo debut, This Cowboy Came From Baltimore. The album, to be released on vinyl through Atticus Records in September 2017, is Nash’s attempt to synthesize the inescapable influence of his Baltimore roots with the revitalized artistic identity his move to Austin generated. The songs on Nash’s debut flirt with conflicting notions of sincerity and parody, with the paradoxical pull of wanderlust and the longing for roots, the security of a loving relationship and the uncertainty of separation. Produced by Stephen Doster at EAR Studios in Austin, This Cowboy Came From Baltimore sports lean arrangements and spare acoustic instrumentation, which are perfectly suited to support Nash’s world weary lyrics and sardonic story songs. Whether it is the cowboy of the titular track that lays dying wishing for his body to be returned home for burial, the skeptical sinner who doubts the promises of the rapture in “The Chosen Few,” or the weary dreamer with the deep desire to control his own life story in “Have My Say,” Nash’s characters tenuously negotiate the uneasy terms that life itself deals them, all the while seeking for the redemption that seems to evade their grasp. There is something existentially heroic about Nash’s characters. They wear their hard won life scars in plain view, not necessarily with confident pride, but neither so with reticent shame. On This Cowboy Came From Baltimore, Nash’s song story world is populated by burned lovers and fatigued dreamers who, despite having lost time and again at life and love, continue to reach for heaven even though they may remain dubious of its promise. For lovers of fine storytelling in song, This Cowboy Came From Baltimore is the kind of record that pays dividends for listeners who invest the time.