Memorial’s Thomas Csorba finishes up his college career — and his second album, inspired by his literary studies. By Ray Dennison, Photos by Jhane Hoang
Thomas Csorba, 22, is all grown up. Five years ago, the folk-Americana singer-songwriter hit the local music scene while attending Memorial High, and by graduation, at 19, he’d dropped two EPs and one full-length album. It was an impressive feat for someone his age. “To me, it didn’t feel like I was entering the music industry. I was just a kid tying to figure out how to express myself,” he says. Now, as he readies for another graduation — from Baylor, this winter — he’s also preparing to drop his second album, one enriched by his liberal arts education.
“I get to read Jane Austen, Longfellow and Whitman for homework,” says the English major. His lyricism has for years caught the ears of critics and fans alike; his early verses sang of high school malaise, family and religion, all with the wisdom of an old soul. “I don’t know if I really set off to write about my feelings these days,” says Csorba of how he’s evolved. “I think songwriting can be used for that purpose, but I’ve found much more life in writing from third-person, and working hard on creating compelling characters. Of course the ‘self’ is, at some level, in every character a writer creates.”
Earlier this year, Csorba played side shows during SXSW, but his primary focus has been recording the new album, which comes out this fall. It channels the wit and energy of great American authors and poets, as well as a bit of legendary Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Csorba’s soulful, country voice boasts rasp and depth that seem much older; his lyrics, per usual, are equally wise beyond his years. In one of his most recent singles, “Another Man In Me,” he croons. There’s a photograph of my father on the refrigerator door / he’s smiling right at me / I don’t know what for / All the things I’ve done / and man I’ve done them wrong / I guess he knows the other man in me. Sometimes his ballads are about himself, and sometimes they’re about characters from out on the road, but all generally invite listeners to question what it means to grow up, and to look to the future for redemption.
Fans should keep an eye on his website (thomascsorba.com) as more singles roll out, and can catch Csorba in Houston playing The Rustic on June 28. He also has tons of sets lined up in Waco, where he’s enjoying being a part of the central Texas town’s growing reputation. “It’s been a blast to be in a town that’s filled with entrepreneurs,” he says. “It’s budding right before our eyes.”