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Taylor Kingman’s frequent performances at venues like the Laurelthirst have garnered him a strong local following, made all the more powerful when he’s backed by his band, the Holy Know-Nothings. The group’s debut LP, Arguably OK, possesses a gruff kind of poise, thanks to Kingman’s smart, relentlessly honest songwriting.

Heavy-lidded country burners like the fuzzy “Emmanuel” stay true to Kingman’s self-described “psychedelic doom boogie.” A crafty metaphor equates a busted car’s chemical dependencies to those of a functioning alcoholic, with a twisted chorus of “I need my chemicals to keep this vehicle on the road.” The rollicking “Hard Times” explodes into existence with a wall of guitars squealing and rumbling in a psych-forward maelstrom, while Kingman shifts between the roles of weathered crooner and antagonized rocker.

Throughout the record, Kingman’s strengths as a songwriter transform otherwise traditional country scorchers into something more rebellious, fragmented, and poetic. Take “Desert Rose,” where Kingman & Co. let the melody melt into a trippy breakdown before piecing the whole thing back together again.

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“Lord, Why’d Ya Make Me?”—another sterling cut of twangy, full-bodied rock—is the kind of song that gets incubated onstage, through the hoots and hollers of sweaty extended jams. There’s only one live recording on the album (“Good Stuff”), but it feels like the whole thing was performed in front of an audience.

Arguably OK is a fitting companion to your Haggard, Jennings, and Van Zandt records. And although the myth of the outlaw poet has waned in the new century, songwriters like Kingman prove that same gritty spirit is still around, just waiting for someone to embody it.

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