“What I always try to do is leave an impact on somebody when they listen to my music,” Triston Marez tells Apple Music. “Whether it's to make them feel happy, to relate to them in a certain situation, if it's sad, happy, having a good time—that's really the main goal.” On his self-titled album, the Houston native explores heartache, budding romance, the power of hometown roots, and, of course, how to knock back a few longnecks through straight-up Texas-bred country with a heaping dose of ’90s radio fare thrown in for good measure. Opening track “Whole Lotta You,” with its massive opening riff and foot-stomping beat, is a jukebox-ready anthem with hints of Cody Johnson and Chris LeDoux. Ronnie Dunn guests on “Where the Neon Lies,” a plaintive ballad about the lingering ghost of an old flame. And “Cold Cold Night” makes the most of a tough breakup, lamenting that the only thing the narrator’s long-gone lover left behind was “a 24-pack in the fridge of blue Coors Light.” Below, Marez walks Apple Music through several of his album’s key tracks.
“Whole Lotta You” “Being from Houston, I grew up listening to Cody Johnson. He had a big influence on my career. I’d seen him play at county fairs, and then, years later, selling out Houston Rodeo. And Trent Willmon actually is Cody's producer. So I got a text one night from Trent. It was just random; I've never met him before. That was our first co-write together. And I just came in, we wanted to write a good country song, an upbeat country song, and we put a little love twist to it.”
“Where the Neon Lies” (feat. Ronnie Dunn) “I was going through a breakup at the time, and I had this idea: Bars always seem to make people feel like there's some sort of chance that that one person that left will come back, and a little alcohol might influence you to think that. So when we recorded the song, we had that ’90s vibe in it, and I think a lot of my musical influences kind of came out in the studio session. We were doing vocals, and my manager just kind of threw it out there, he said, ‘I'm going to email this to Ronnie,’ and see if he wanted to be a part of it. And sure enough, two weeks later, three weeks later, Ronnie's on the track, and I still can't believe it.”
“Texas Swing” (with Squeezebox Bandits and Jessica Roadcap) “Gabe Lee, a phenomenal songwriter and artist, he had pretty much the whole song written. And it just had this cool South Texas-slash-San Antonio vibe to it. And that's when we hit up Squeezebox Bandits to get that vibe on it. And that one's a really unique song. I really wanted something to stand out on the record that's a lot different than what most people would do.”
“Cold Cold Night” “I was kind of out of ideas, and me and my buddy Andy Wills—we write a ton together—I think he had the idea. He had a poster of the Highwaymen, and I'm like, ‘Let's write a honky-tonk song, just a fun country song.’ And I think we wrote that in like 30 minutes. It’s just about a breakup, and whoever left, a girl or a guy, all they left was a case of Coors to get over it.”
“She’s Had Enough of Texas” “We were playing Gruene Hall, opening up for Randall King, and he actually sold it out his first time playing. We had a few publishers from Nashville fly in to come check us out. After the show, we had went to Whataburger, which is another Texas staple. It was like three in the morning, just a late night after the show, and [the publisher] goes, ‘All right, I'm calling it a night.’ And I told my manager and her, I was like, ‘I guess she's had enough of Texas.’ And me and my manager both looked at each other like, ‘Oh my god, we got to take that to Nashville with us.’”
“Drink About Me” “It's one of those things that, when you recently break up with somebody, it seems to happen, either on you or the other person. They end up calling you late at night, trying to get back with you, or trying to get at you. And in the morning, they wake up realizing, ‘Oh, god, what did I do? I texted my ex.’ I wrote that with my mom, Jamie Ranae, and my buddy Andy Wills.”