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The Roseline’s ‘Townie’ shows its fondness for the heartland

The Roseline is led by Colin Halliburton.
The Roseline is led by Colin Halliburton.

In the summer of 2012, Colin Halliburton, on a whim, moved to New York. His stay would be brief but inspirational.

“We’d just come back from a monthlong tour, our longest tour ever,” he said of his Lawrence band, the Roseline. “I guess I was still on a kind of high from that. I had the chance to live with a friend for cheap, so I kind of impulsively moved to Brooklyn.”

He stayed for one month.

“It kicked my ass,” Halliburton said. “It ended up being my way of convincing myself that flyover country is an OK place to be.”

So he moved back to Lawrence and almost instantly began working on “Townie,” the fourth album by the Roseline, the band Halliburton started with friends in 2005. Since its inception, the Roseline has been nestled in the alt-country/Americana genre, making music that draws comparisons to bands such as Whiskeytown and Blue Mountain.

“Some people are weary of that descriptor,” Halliburton said. “I’m fine with it.”

“Townie” fits that descriptor, too. It’s a collection of melodic and breezy country-folk tunes inspired by a difficult period in Halliburton’s life, which included his fling with New York.

“I was coming out of two rough years in my life,” he said. “There was some existential dread, panic disorder, depression and trying to find a sense of home, or what that idea is or means, and city versus small-town life. It’s all over the map, really, a collection of songs, not so much a single idea or theme.”

He addresses the sense of home and belonging in the title track, which recalls his brief stay in New York, the alienation that ensues and the renewed appreciation for his former hometown. Halliburton said his favorite track on “Townie” is the rollicking country-rock shuffle “A Children’s Game,” a commentary about life in Lawrence that makes some of his bandmates uneasy.

“I like it for many different reasons, starting with the playing and execution,” he said. “It’s a dark, funny depiction of where I was at the time. The band doesn’t really like to play it in Lawrence. They think it will offend someone. The song is about me, but I made it a ‘we’ song, so I kind of understand.”

“Townie” is filled with songs that express personal experiences and sentiments, which is the only way he knows how to write, Halliburton said.

“I’ve always written personal songs. These songs aren’t any more personal than others I’ve written, but some are maybe a little more abrasive. Those are the kinds of songs I’m attracted to, personal and confessional. I hope people can relate to them. I don’t really worry about being too personal, and I try not to hold anything back. If I worried about that, the songs would suffer.”

The Roseline has been through dozens of lineup changes. The current lineup has been together for about two months: Halliburton on guitar; Kris Losure, guitar; Aaron Pando, drums; Sam Goodell, keyboards; and Heidi Gluck on bass.

In September, the Roseline performed at the RecordBar, its first show in three years. But Halliburton said he’s feeling more at home in another way: back in a band that is making music and playing live shows after a long hiatus.

“The (RecordBar) show went really well,” Halliburton said. “Heidi just joined two months ago, but we are jelling well. We’re pretty new, but I like how we are sounding.”

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Friday

The Roseline’s “Townie” is available for download and streaming. The band will perform at a CD release show Friday night at Love Garden Sounds, 822 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence. Heidi Gluck and her band will open at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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