KNOXVILLE, TN -- Cruz Contreras, the founder of the hard-touring, award-winning band The Black Lillies, is putting that passion on pause to answer another: that of a solo artist.
Contreras, a country/rock-leaning Americana artist who spent the past decade performing in venues large and small across the country, has cultivated a fiercely loyal fan base. He instigated this new direction to facilitate growth, both artistically and personally.
“When I see a mountain, I want to climb it,” Contreras says. “And I felt like to continue touring as the Black Lillies for the time being would be playing it safe. This is me creating a vision for who I am artistically, which is vastly different than when I started the Black Lillies 10 years ago. I’m re-envisioning my dreams and committing myself to them.”
Cosmico represents a bold artistic growth for the East Tennessean. Musically, the record is ethereal and evocative. Lyrically it’s personal and introspective.
“It’s a trippy record from beginning to end,” Contreras says. “It sneaks up on you and transports you to somewhere else. And that’s not the result of a single song, it’s the effect of the collective.”
Cosmico is touchstone work, speaking to humanity’s need for growth and the price that sometimes comes with it. The record begins with an other-worldly guitar harmonic, foreshadowing the intensely satisfying, ethereal experience the nine-track record delivers.
“These songs are fresh, timely, and especially relatable during these strange times,” Contreras says. “Putting the Black Lillies on hold for a while has allowed me to really tap into a powerful new vein of creativity as a songwriter and performer.”
In Cosmico, Contreras deftly shifts from the smoke-tinged introspective opening track, “Stop Giving Your Heart Away,” to the blues-infused “Doin’ Time.” “Flashing Light,” a slow-dance masterwork that echoes Patsy Cline as much as it does the distinctive piano stylings of Floyd Cramer, firmly carries forward a distinctive soundscape that deliriously swirls above a lush, waltzing groove. The album’s centerpiece, “Breaking a Habit,” anchors the themes of change and evolution.
“Breaking a habit” is vital to the concept of the record,” Contreras says. “If you’re going to make changes, you’re going to have to break patterns and habits.”
Contreras expects to resume a robust touring schedule this spring. Audiences can expect intimate renditions of songs from Cosmico, as well as acoustic versions from the deep Black Lillies’ repertoire. Cosmico's release date is currently pending, please subscribe to Cruz's newsletter for all the latest updates and follow him on social media.