ABOUT THE DEER
The Deer have built a devoted audience for their uninhibited, cosmic indie folk the old fashioned
way: playing their hearts out, night after night. The band formed in the college town of San
Marcos, Texas; half an hour south of Austin, where the members attended Texas State University
and where singer/co-songwriter Grace Rowland lived on a farm. They cultivated a fervent
presence in Texas Hill Country, playing the likes of Kerrville Folk Festival and Old Settler's
Music Festival, and collaborating often with local staples like Bayonne's Roger Sellers,
players from Asleep at the Wheel, and fellow festival act Elephant Revival. The Deer expanded
to the national stage with extensive headlining and support slots for Big Thief and The Head and
The Heart. Their label debut Do No Harm, released in 2019, marked a set of career
breakthroughs, topping the KUTX chart and earning a nomination for the Austin Music Awards’
Album of the Year. When live music took global pause, The Deer had momentum to sort.
The five musicians took the energy historically reserved for tour into the studio, a pressure
cooker not only for creativity, but newly, for existential contemplation. The result is two full
albums, the first of which, The Beautiful Undead, will be released September 9, 2022 on
tastemaking indie label Keeled Scales. It’s a rollicking collection reflecting upon what it means
to lose your sense of purpose. The Deer, amidst turbulent assessment, transformed a paralyzing
void into an empowering surrender of ego—an exuberant submission to the immense
unpredictability of existing.
Throughout the album, The Deer maintain the modern folk flutter and Mazzy Star melodiousness
they’re known for, but infuse those delicate bones with emotional tension, and indulge a new
sonic edge. Enlivened by multi-dimensional instrumentation—synths, fiddle, mandolin, electric
and acoustic guitars, slide guitar, piano, upright bass, and even mellotron populate the
record—The Deer’s full arrangements shift their sound to an impressive pocket between
Fleetwood Mac and Big Thief. The Beautiful Undead is luminous, boisterous, and invigorating; a
free-spirited album fueled by hard-earned revelation.
On lead single “I Wouldn’t Recognize Me,” lyricist and frontwoman Grace Rowland writes to
a younger self. She shares, "If I could go back and give my younger self some advice, she may
not even realize it’s her. But I would tell her to care for herself like she does for the world, to
take a stand for what she believes in, and to be ready for it all to change.” The song’s vibrant
melody and commanding lyrics (All in all is falling upon us) accept the endlessness of change
and evoke an energized readiness for it. Says Rowland, “The self is a collective of different
versions of the same person, and it will always be up to that little girl - and every person she
decides to be at every time in her life - to set her future self up for success, and to be kind to and
forgive her past self."
This attention to personal growth pervades throughout the album. As its five members find
themselves digging more deeply into commitments, songwriters Grace Rowland and Jesse
Dalton shape odes to the profundity of refined love, as with “Bellwether.” The song shimmers,
mirroring the reeling feeling of falling in love. The lyrics are wise and haunting as the band
submits to the cyclical nature of affection: While protecting my sanctity / My sanity / A canyon
that’s eroding away / Down the alleys of my beliefs / A torrent sweeps / And carves its route
around what I hide / I gave it time.
The band’s expanding perspective reaches beyond the interpersonal. On “Columns,” zagging
guitars precede vivid and startling images of climate change: There is a road / No one could
cross after the ocean rose / Here lies a path / So overgrown I heard the forest laugh. On “Golden
Broken Record,” the band fall altogether mournful, an achy fiddle intertwining with sizzling
lines: Right or wrong / Will you know what side you're on / When it's gone. Rowland’s vocals
wobble grief-stricken as she cautions: Maybe it don't feel like danger / When it is what it is / But
it is. Says Rowland, “Our world is changing. Can we hold ourselves accountable for our part in
it, and reverse our fate? Like in a fight with a loved one, can we stop, listen, and learn?
The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the planet is getting warmer, and human
extinction looms likely. The Deer handle their devastated call for change with an artful subtlety,
an infectious sense of play, and a projection of internal learning onto the external world. Their
genius is in creating palpable, emotional urgency not with boisterousness, but fact. Throughout
The Beautiful Undead, The Deer radiate an intensity fit for the times, but not at the cost of
The love below it
The ugly above it
And all it comes with
I’m never lonely
that beautiful undead
Is at my doorstep
VOCALS, GUITAR, & KEYS Formerly known as Grace Park, she grew up in the Texas Hill Country. A classically-trained vocalist, Grace began writing songs in 2007 and fronted The Blue Hit. Grace has sung with Alejandro Escovedo, Elephant Revival, MilkDrive, and Abram Shook. She is also an avid artist working in cut paper, graphic design, illustration, stained glass, and more. Photo by Letitia Smith.
UPRIGHT BASS, BANJO, GUITAR, VOCALS: Jesse is originally from San Diego, California. He holds a Master’s degree in Anthropology and a doctorate in divinity. He also plays upright bass with MilkDrive, The Billy Bright Quartet, and Roger Sellers Acoustiquintet. He has shared the stage with great performers like Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien, & Tony Rice. He is an avid songwriter and has worked closely with the Apalachicola-Creek Indians for a decade. Photo by Peri Kay of Lightbug Photography
LEAD GUITAR AND PRODUCER: A native Austinite, Michael has his degree in guitar performance and is a gifted composer and sound engineer. He has created music for Richard Linklater films and he plays bass in indie rock band Good Field. He has also played with Dana Falconberry and is part founder of the group Hendrikz McLeod.
DRUMS, KEYS, & VOCALS: Originally from Virginia, Alan attended the University of North Texas Jazz Program in Denton, Texas. A talented multi-instrumentalist, he plays piano and guitar as well as drums and vocals. He has played professionally for several years with many groups including Dimitri’s Ascent, A Live One, and Jack Wilson. Photo by Lucero Trevino
FIDDLE, MANDOLIN, & GUITAR: Hailing from Idaho, Noah is an expert string player - he plays mandolin, fiddle, guitar, bass, and banjo. He is The Deer's newest member, and his past projects include Jason Boland & the Stragglers, The South Austin Jug Band, and MilkDrive. Photo by Michael Schaffer.