Houston Music

Mando Saenz: Bucket

Lines like "It's alright to feel okay" will prevent former Houstonian Mando Saenz from appealing to ­testosterone-laden audiences, but — last I checked — male fans do not turn you into a pop star. Producer R.S. Field's (Webb Wilder, Allison Moorer, Hayes Carll) involvement makes this record sound fairly massive, and Saenz's vocals will never be more forceful than they are here. Perhaps Bucket's most interesting point is that it seems to conquer slick Nashville nonsense on its own terms, proving a record can sound utterly organic and still make for a pleasant spin through the headphones. Opener "Wrong Guy" sets the stage for a disc full of tracks big enough to warrant climbing in and exploring, notably "Pocket of Red," "Pittsburgh," "Come Out Tonight" and "Candy Red," while "Seven Dollars" manages to capture the bittersweet nature of spending a night in a bar while simultaneously becoming a top contender for Least Gritty Song About Drinking. Bucket maximizes Saenz's gifts, and presents him in a way that gives him his best shot yet at mass appeal.

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Chris Henderson