If he’s being honest,  even a dyed-in-the wool country singer can’t pretend his record collection is pure.   For every George Jones LP on the shelf, there’s another by Big Star, Wilco, or A.A. Bondy.  Nashville, Tennessee’s Runner of the Woods believes this is a beautiful thing.

Their debut album, “Thirsty Valley”, is countrygaze that’s road trip-ready. With punchy guitars and odes to wide open spaces, it’s the ideal companion to a spur-of-the moment escape to the great outdoors.

Front man Nick Beaudoing previously led NYC’s Cajun honky-tonkers, the Doc Marshalls.  Over the course of three releases, the band evolved from Bakersfield shuffles and Acadian barnburners to jagged, glimmering folk. The pedal steel was still king, but now it blared from a low-watt amp with a brash fuzz tone.

“Thirsty Valley” is the sort of record a man makes when love has gone good but something else is still missing. It’s the thousand-yard stare that accompanies boozy recollections of perfect northern lakes or some girl you used to know.

A solid country core gives rise to a band that’s still keen to pack the dance floor whenever duty calls. A train shuffle beat or Gary Stewart-style weeper is never far away. But they also love it when people lay back and listen. Either way, you’re going to feel better.

Runner of the Woods is:

Nicolas Beaudoing: Guitar/Vocals

Jonathan Gregg: Pedal Steel

Eric Frey: Bass

Zoltan Tobak/Lemuel Hayes/Matt Doctor: Drums