There’s something refreshing about watching the youthful inexperience of Cody Riley.
Riley was born and raised in Trinidad (the town near Malakoff, not the island nation), spent his high school years in Canton and, following a brief time in South Texas, has made Athens his home. He cut his first record at age 13 and has begun to make a name for himself around Texas and beyond.
His musical origins, however, stem from his family. Holidays were always spent gathered, playing music. His grandfather introduced him to the ways of the six string at a young age after Riley realized he was one of the members of his family not playing guitar.
“Everybody was always playing guitar and I wanted to play, so he said, ‘Well, let me show ya some chords,’” Riley said. “I think he three chords, just G, C and D. I messed around with them and after that taught myself watching people play.”
Riley said his family remains supportive of his musical ambition – “They’re excited that there’s someone in the family who took it to the next level” – so it’s only natural that they play a significant role in his music.
“I talk about my family in a lot of my songs. I have my brother in a lot of my songs, and I write with my brother,” he said. “I’ve got a song about my granddad and my dad and my mom. My family has been really supportive of what I’ve done, so it’s easy to write about it.”
He writes the majority of his own lyrics, though Riley said he’s not so much focused on always singing his own words as he is putting the best possible song out there.
When he is writing, Riley said he’s seen his sensibilities begin to shift, moving from penning songs about partying and “having a good time” to subjects of a bit more substance.
“Now it’s more writing love songs, songs that actually mean something,” he said.
This shift, Riley said, means his musical style has evolved into a country flavor and it’s a change he’s happy to embrace.
“I think it’s better,” he said. “Everybody can write a party song, but to actually write a really good love song, it takes a lot of effort. It really does. … It used to be that I could write a song in an hour, but that was mostly because they weren’t that good. But now sometimes it’ll take me a month to write a song. I’m not just trying to finish a song, I’m trying to make it a good song.”
But even as his style has veered more toward country, Riley said he doesn’t see himself fitting precisely within the confines of what is considered either Texas or Nashville-style country.
“I don’t really care what it’s called, personally. I don’t see a category anywhere. What was (Cross Canadian) Ragweed? Was that Texas country? I don’t know. It was awesome and we loved it. It was Ragweed. That’s how I like to see it. If it’s good, play it,” he said.
The Cody Riley Band will perform live at Liberty Hall at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 25. For tickets, visit www.outhouseticke ts.com. For more information, contact Liberty Hall at 903-595-7274 or visit www.libertytyler.com.