Four new music releases with San Antonio ties chart love, loss, faith, joy and the inner beauty of people during dark times.

Jazz vocalist and former resident Wendy B’s Here 2 Stay compiles original love-themed songs and lively covers; singer-songwriter Brandon Padier documents a time of deep loneliness in Years in the Wilderness; cosmic country rockers Garrett T. Capps and Nasa Country hold onto optimism in People Are Beautiful; and the soundtrack to documentary film Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom featuring poet Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson musically examines the end of slavery in the United States.

Years in the Wilderness

<I>Years in the Wilderness</I>, Brandon Padier
Years in the Wilderness, Brandon Padier Credit: Courtesy / Artist – Josh Huskin

Singer-songwriter Brandon Padier recently posted a heartfelt message on social media to announce a new album titled Years in the Wilderness.

“My life was in disarray, I was losing my marriage, I was losing my faith, my understanding of the world as I knew it was being flipped upside down,” he wrote, describing “one of the darkest holes I’ve ever been in.”

The cathartic process of writing songs saved him, he said, and the result is a 13-song record that channels hurt and loneliness into self-awareness and hope.

Several songs have already been released. The single “Sweet By & By” arrived on Bandcamp in December, followed by a four-song EP Suffering Season, then five-song EP Temptation of the Prodigal in April. On August 19, the full Years in the Wilderness album will be available.

The same day, Padier will play the Brick at Blue Star Summer Vibes local music showcase with backing band Black Gold.

Padier is a multi-instrumentalist, with a background studying piano and trombone, and the motivation to teach himself guitar, drums and harmonica. He honed his voice singing in the choir of First Baptist Church of La Vernia. This array of skills is on full display in his recent recordings, with Padier handling all instrumentation except for touches of pedal steel guitar by Jordan Stern and fiddle by Nathan Evans Fox.

As a San Antonio native and bassist for the lighthearted country cover band The Texases, Padier shows strong country music influences but he also claims kinship with the electric folk of Bob Dylan, the emotive rock of Bruce Springsteen, and the melancholy of Sea Change-era Beck.

Though each of those musicians has made a famous break-up record, Padier said Years in the Wilderness is “much more than heartbreak in song form, this album is a testament that no matter what or who you lose from your life, love conquers all.”

Here 2 Stay

Though San Antonio-born and raised jazz vocalist Wednesday Ball moved to Washington, D.C. in 2020 to further her career, she knew she wanted to come home for the debut of material from her new 10-song album Here 2 Stay.

Now known musically as Wendy B, Ball will perform the album live at the Carver Community Cultural Center on Aug. 19, with a band including several local musicians.

Songs on the album touch on making a commitment to love, including the title track and a Latinesque cover of Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do.”

Here 2 Stay was completed in late 2021, but the ongoing pandemic caused delays in Ball’s performance schedule. She had an opportunity to debut the material in Atlanta but decided on her hometown for the concert that will serve as the album’s hometown release.

Asked when she discovered her voice, Ball recalled visiting her grandparents on San Antonio’s far East Side as a young teenager.

“My grandmother had a lot of acres,” she said. “You can be as loud as you want in the country,” she said, and one day she sang away outdoors unaware that her grandmother was inside listening.

“She said ‘I saw you like Diana Ross singing all those songs out there,’” Ball said, and she was soon enlisted in the choir of Bethel United Methodist Church. From there, Ball began singing in jazz venues and festivals throughout the city, only relocating to D.C. to pursue an important career opportunity with music producer EC3 Vibe.

David Muñoz of iHeart Media will emcee the Carver Center concert. Tickets are $35, available here.

People Are Beautiful

<I>People are Beautiful</I>, Garrett T. Capps and NASA Country
People are Beautiful, Garrett T. Capps and NASA Country Credit: Courtesy / Garett T. Capps

Despite the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 that shut down his ability to connect directly with audiences, San Antonio country rocker Garrett T. Capps was feeling positive about people. Songs he wrote at the time carry such optimistic titles as “Gettin’ Better,” “A Better Place,” and “People Are Beautiful,” the last of which also serves as the title of his new album with backing band NASA Country.

Set to be released Oct. 21, Capps has already been performing songs from People Are Beautiful during live shows. A free show at Paper Tiger on Sept. 10 will celebrate the new album with multiple bands, then an after party at Lonesome Rose, the St. Mary’s Strip honky tonk Capps co-owns.

Not every note struck on People Are Beautiful is positive. The song “Rip Out the Darkness” confronts disenchantment caused by the “24-hour news cycle blues,” according to the description on Bandcamp.

Bandmate Justin Boyd, who adds a spacey vibe to Capps’s country-inflected tunes through synthesizers, brought brightness to the record with a colorful paper-and-photo collage cover. A figure made from greenery, flowing water and the sun reaches its arms out in an all-encompassing embrace.

“The figure is meant to be an every person, no gender or race,” Boyd said. “Bringing … things into some harmonious relationship.”

The first single, “Gettin’ Better,” will be released digitally on Bandcamp this Friday.

Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom

<I>Juneteenth</I>, various artists
Juneteenth, various artists Credit: Courtesy / Artist

Just in time for the newest U.S. federal holiday, Our Daily Bread Ministries released the Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom documentary, produced by New York scholar and pastor Rasool Berry and director Ya’ke Smith of the University of Texas at Austin.

Juneteenth includes an interview with San Antonio scholar Carey Latimore, who died in July.

Now, the film’s 13-song soundtrack is out, prominently featuring another San Antonio personality, poet laureate Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson.

Amid historically enlightening rap tracks by Lecrae and Propaganda among other artists, Sanderson voices poetically charged verses on the costs of “American apartheid” that “dashed the hopes of Black people to a bloody pulp.”

Sanderson also tells of the “soul-stirring lyrics” of spirituals that helped enslaved people find their own paths to freedom before the Civil War, and completes the circle of the soundtrack by declaring “a better day is here now” on the outro titled “Freedom Day.”

An MP3 version of the complete album is available through Amazon for $16.77 or $1.29 per track.

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...