Zach Aaron // Fill Dirt Wanted
There’s a whole lotta lonesome in the world. Trying to make sense of it all, including his own, Texas troubadour Zach Aaron travels through lifetimes of hurt on his new album. Fill Dirt Wanted weathers every kind of storm – from a dear friend’s final moments to working one’s hands to the bone. Spanning 12 songs – all tracked live in a room, straight to tape – the record also contains tales about paranormal activity, the Civilian Conservation Corp, and a good for nothin’ local train system – all fitting hallmarks of a traditional Texas country/folk troubadour.
“Running from the preacher / Running from my sins / Running from my family / I’m running from my fears / Running from anything that gets too near,” he agonizes over the hole swelling in his chest. “Got no one to blame / I dug it on my own.” Such anguish is the bedrock of the record, often writhing around or drowning in it completely, and the title cut serves as an appropriate kick starter.
“Animal of Burden” pounds and yanks the listener out of their seat. “Work, work, work / That’s my game / I’m comin’ up short at the end of the day,” he barks. “I’m an animal of burden / I know my place / Fueling all the fires in a rich man’s race / Breaking my back with a smile on my face.”
Calling to such influences as Woody Guthrie and Guy Clark, Aaron walks a delicate tightrope – doing what needs to be done but feeling suffocated while doing it. “I was feeling like I was working my ass off and not really getting anywhere,” he says. “I came across the term ‘animal of burden’ and got to thinking about how most people live their whole life as just an animal of burden – working their life away. I was wondering, ‘What for? Is it all worth it?’”
With his third studio album, recorded at Breathing Rhythm in Norman, Oklahoma, with producer Giovanni Carnuccio and engineer Steve Boaz, Aaron tears through a rush of emotions.
Born in El Paso, Texas on an army base, Aaron shuffled off with his mother to Tombstone, Arizona to live with his grandparents following a divorce. The two lived there until Aaron was 12 years old, and soon, they relocated to East Texas. It wasn’t until after high school that he began to explore music as a creative outlet. He took up a local construction job, and one of his co-workers first taught him basic chords.
Aaron was hooked. “I never sang in my life before or even wrote songs,” he says. Six months later, he entered the Air Force in which he worked for the next four and a half years. He continued to hone his craft, of course, and when he returned, he pursued music more seriously.
In the coming years, he worked with a fence company for a while, playing shows and writing when he could, and later on an oil field. He then rough necked in northern Louisiana on an oil rig for the Patterson Oil Company. His work took him all over the south and as far as Corpus Christi, Texas.
The music eventually pulled him back, and he decided to “go all in,” he says. “I always had little jobs here and there to keep bills paid.” During his many work endeavors, Aaron released two albums, 2014’s Find My Soul and 2016’s Murder of Crows – both recorded at The Zone in Dripping Springs, Texas.
In addition to his music, Aaron does custom leather work. His items include belts, guitar straps, and holsters. His younger brother first started in the business, eventually piquing Aaron’s interest, so when an ex-girlfriend’s mother was getting rid of some tools, he took to the craft himself.
Now living in Tarkington, outside of Cleveland and 45 minutes north of Houston, Zach Aaron eyes the most emotional and compelling record of his career. Fill Dirt Wanted boasts rootsy compositions and a roster of musicians, including Kevin Haystack Foster (guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, harmony vocals) and Dave Leech (upright bass, piano).
Moments like “Potato Salad,” “Aztec Cafe,” and “Southeast Texas Trinity River Bottom Blues” flex the full extent of his abilities. He combs very honest encounters and observations to dissect humanity’s darkest pains and tragedies, as well as our brightest joys. It’s a true cross section of what it means to be alive, to be broken, and to find healing in the wreckage.
Fill Dirt Wanted carries with it a timely air, too. Aaron’s lyrics implicate great compassion and empathy, but he never hops upon a soap box. It just is.
“Pure country sound…perfectly suited for shuffling around the hardwood floors of a Texas dancehall.” – Wide Open Country
“Aaron’s latest album stopped me in my tracks on first play and has been on constant play since then. I expect it will make a similar impression on any other Texan singer songwriter enthusiasts.” – Lonesome Highway
“Breathtaking…Zach Aaron has written perfectly deadpan songs that deliver a combination of dry humor and delightful music.” – Americana Highways
“Aaron’s road-weary voice mirrors those of outlaw singer-songwriter predecessors.” – Glide Magazine
“Might remind you of Rayy Wylie Hubbard, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, or Steve Earle. His vocal delivery might variously bring to mind Billy Joe Shaver, Hayes Carll, or James McMurtry.” – Cowboys & Indians Magazine
Publicist: Frank Keith