Cody Lynn Boyd has a look: shaggy blond hair, bowled and trimmed just above the eyebrows, and an all-black uniform of jet-black boots, jeans, and turtleneck, imbuing the young singer-songwriter with a striking resemblance to long-departed Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones. Even if you’ve never heard a note of his music, his appearance has an effect — as far as anyone knows, Cody Lynn Boyd wears that stuff all the time –– but it also makes him instantly recognizable. It’s probably too early in his career to call his look iconic, but it has already given him a brand.
Boyd explains it like this: “I like the idea of dressing like a cartoon character — you know, the same thing every day. Like it’s Scooby Doo.”
“Gothic Shaggy” is an oddly fitting reference, in part because Boyd actually spends his free time ghost hunting in cemeteries. But like the origin of the classic cartoon sleuths, this new Fort Worth artist is also something of a mystery. When he walks into a bar, he stands out, and whether people are into his look or dismiss it as a costume, they still take notice. He wants you to see the way he looks because then you might be interested in what he sounds like.
Though Boyd is a native of Fort Worth, he’s a different breed of songwriter, ditching the pearl snaps, Stetsons, and drawl in favor of stretching his voice over a wide range of styles. On his debut album, 2016’s The Late Recordings, he swaggers from the proto-punk stomp of “Freaks of the Night” to the Dylan-esque protest folk of “World History’s Misery,” even dabbling in dance — the pulse lurking in “I Don’t Want to Go to Work” sounds as if Mark E. Smith had never discovered cigarettes and whisky and sang for Orange Juice instead of The Fall.
Boyd draws influence from idiosyncratic songwriters with a taste for drama: Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Howlin’ Wolf all inform his sound, but he also is inspired by Stanley Kubrick and the Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling. Boyd’s work is not only about his music but also about sculpting his own artistic universe — a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. Underneath it all, he expresses a love for tribal grooves, rhythm marching with a whole culture on its back.
Boyd appeared on the scene in the winter of 2016 after linking up with drummer and producer Joshua Ryan Jones, who engineered live sound at the dearly departed Live Oak Music Hall and Lounge. Since then, Jones has been acting as Boyd’s manager and liaison, showing him the ropes and introducing him to the players who will help him flesh out his next album. Jones was floored by Boyd’s voice as well as his presence – an artist willing to present himself as full-fledged rock star from Day 1 is, if nothing else, highly ambitious. But Jones thought Boyd had the artistic chops to back up the statement made by his clothes, and soon after meeting Boyd, Jones brought him in to track at AudioStyles, the studio built and run by Taylor Tatsch (Maren Morris, Shadows of Jets) at his home in Dripping Springs, near Austin. Those sessions will ultimately become Boyd’s next record.
Tatsch and Jones backed Boyd on “I Play with Fire,” the first single slated to be released in a couple of months from that forthcoming album that also features Panic Volcanic frontwoman Ansley “The Destroyer” Dougherty on backing vocals and Leon Bridges’ sax wizard, Jeff Dazey, on horns.
Though he might be the new kid in town, Cody Lynn Boyd is making an impressive debut, both sonically and aesthetically.
Cody Lynn Boyd, 10pm Thu w/Whiskerman at Magnolia Motor Lounge, 3005 Morton St, FW. $12.