California country is back, and Mustangs of the West are about to ride again with a new single T-Shirt From California which is available now. The Mustangs were an integral part of the budding Los Angeles 80’s and 90’s alt-country scene, opening for Rosie Flores, Jim Lauderdale and Lucinda Williams. An all-female country band, they were an anomaly on the scene and their career paralleled that of the early Dixie Chicks. As band founder Sherry Rayn Barnett reminisced to Bliss Bowen of The Pasadena Weekly, “We were on a lot of the same bills just before the Dixie Chicks broke. We’d be there one week and they’d be there the next.” After seven years of gigging and touring extensively, the band broke up in the mid 90s and eventually scattered to various cities.
Twenty years later, the Mustangs are back with a name change, Mustangs of the West, and three of the original members - Sherry Rayn Barnett (electric guitar, vocals), Suzanna Spring (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), and Holly Montgomery (bass, vocals). They’ve also added Suzanne Morissette (drums, vocals) and Aubrey Richmond (fiddle, vocals) to make the fully rounded quintet. Featuring the same three and four-part vocal harmonies, the chemistry of their voices and instruments creates a powerful sound that draws on both country and rock influences.
Re-connecting in 2017, Sherry, Suzanna and Holly rekindled their interest in the Mustang sound and decided to take it into the studio where they added Suzanne, a master’s graduate of the Quebec Conservatory of Music, and Aubrey, a native Californian who has spent the last three years touring and recording with Shooter Jennings. The upcoming single, T-Shirt From California, is a sentimental song about love gone wrong, written by lead singer Suzanna Spring with Wes Hightower and recorded at Snuffy Walden’s Taylor Made Studios.
“I wrote ‘T-Shirt from California’ when I was living in Nashville and homesick for California,” said Spring. “Sitting on my couch one morning, strumming my guitar, the chorus melody and chorus lyrics came through, almost complete. I took that chorus into a writing appointment with Wes Hightower, and we wrote verses and the story. He had the idea for those great Beach Boys harmonies in the chorus, and Mustangs of the West has such a beautiful vocal blend; it was natural that we'd record this song.”
The arrangements were worked out as a band adding jangly guitars and full harmonies. “Originally the song was called ‘She’s Got Your Heart’, but we renamed it ‘T-Shirt From California’, thanks to the suggestion of Nashville journalist Holly Gleason to revisit the title,” Spring explains. “It just FEELS like California at the edge of summer, driving with the top down, Highway 1. Singing the chorus always makes me smile.” Mustangs of the West, like their wild namesakes charging back along the mesa, are ready to make their mark again.