Austin City Limits welcomes Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert and Jon Randall as they present their upcoming album The Marfa Tapes on April 28 at ACL Live at the Moody Theater.
Deep in the heart of the Trans-Pecos lies a little town with an outsized grip on the American imagination: Marfa, Texas. For decades Marfa has attracted artists and wanderers, visionaries and misfits, loners and oddballs. The desolate meeting of high desert and rugged mountains is a filmmaker’s dream (see No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood, both of which were filmed here), and the infinite, empty sky leaves you with little doubt as to your place in the universe. Marfa is the perfect place to lose—or find—yourself. For singer/songwriters Miranda Lambert (who has visited the ACL stage three times), Jack Ingram (who last appeared 25 years ago in Season 22) and Jon Randall (who makes his ACL debut), it was both.
Writing retreats to Marfa became a regular tradition for Lambert, Randall, and Ingram, one that yielded both massive hits and profound personal growth. When the trio returned for five days this past November though, they came not to write, but to record, capturing a captivating new album inspired by the stark beauty of west Texas and the deep, lasting bonds the three have forged there. Recorded raw and loose with just a pair of microphones and an acoustic guitar, The Marfa Tapes is a work of audio verité, an intimate, unadorned snapshot of a moment in time fueled by love, trust, and friendship. The trio recorded much of the album outdoors, inviting the ambient sounds of the desert to seep into their live, bare bones performances, and the atmosphere is utterly transportive. While a few of the tracks here may already be familiar to country listeners—ACM Song of the Year “Tin Man” turns up in its original, stripped-down state, as does fan favorite “Tequila Does”—the vast majority of the material has never been heard outside of Marfa, and the result is a rare glimpse inside the creative process of three of the genre’s most accomplished writers and performers, a candid, unvarnished look at Lambert, Randall, and Ingram’s undeniable chemistry in its purest, most honest form.
The songs on this album would sound great anywhere, but there’s something about these recordings, about the rustling of the wind and the crackling of the fire, that brings the music to life in a way no band arrangement or studio production ever could. The spaciousness here leaves plenty of room for the imagination to roam, and the desert, mountains, and sky are all just as integral to the sound as Lambert, Randall, and Ingram themselves. In the end, Marfa isn’t just the setting for this album; it’s the soul.
Due to implemented safety measures and the ongoing uncertainty from COVID-19, there will be no giveaway for access to attend upcoming ACL tapings. With the safety of the artists, crew and guests top of mind, the limited studio audience will be prioritized to our donors who make Austin City Limits possible and who have continued to support the show during this challenging time and beyond. We will expand the audience as safety measures allow and will post giveaway opportunities on ACLTV.com as available. Thank you for your patience as we work to reopen safely. We can’t wait to get back to the music with our supporters and fans.
Unfortunately, there will not be a public live stream of this taping. As always, the performances captured in our current tapings will broadcast this fall in ACL’s 47th season, and we encourage you to catch our encore episodes on your local PBS station.