Texas country singer-songwriter Max Stalling pens tunes that connect, songs that form a snapshot of his life, songs that make an album. Five years after his last record, 2010’s relaxed honky-tonking opus Home to You, Stalling felt compelled to mold a full-length record. One-off singles are great, he admits, but there is such artistic strength in a cohesive body of work. Enter Banquet, Stalling’s sixth studio album, which is set for an early fall release on his longtime imprint Blind Nello Records. Produced by A-list Texas music helmsman Lloyd Maines and recorded at The Zone in Dripping Springs, Banquet boasts 11 tracks played by Jason Steinsultz on bass, Tom Lewis on drums, Bryce Clarke on guitar and mandolin, Heather Stalling (Max’s wife) on fiddle, Maines on steel guitar, and Stalling himself on guitar and lead vocals. The project was engineered by Pat Manske. In many ways Banquet is quintessential Max Stalling – a batch of uncluttered, melodic, beautifully played vignettes about life, the oddities of the human condition, struggles, broken hearts, and even one titled “All the Way,” which is about “an existential discussion of the rarified condition of being,” Stalling wryly declares. He offers a pair of spirited covers, the Beatles’ “Two of Us” and Doug Sahm’s “Beautiful Texas Sunshine,” and co-writes with buddies Jason Boland and Mark David Manders on the lead track “Night’s Pay In My Boots.” Wife Heather, whom he married in 2007, is Stalling’s writing partner on “You’d Better Be.” Banquet is actually quite pivotal for Stalling. Like all true artists, the making of Banquet tested his mettle. He experienced writer’s block during the crafting of these songs, and he questioned whether the man he is now, a 48-year-old happily married stepfather, still has the same ardor he felt back in 1997 when he released his debut effort, Comfort In the Curves. One listen to Banquet reveals the clear answer – he unequivocally still has that same passion. Yet Stalling has certainly earned the right to not only take his time between releases, but also reevaluate his artistic prowess. He consistently plays at least 150 shows a year all over Texas – Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Amarillo, Ft. Worth, Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Grapevine, Galveston, Austin, Luckenbach, Gruene – and occasionally ventures to surrounding states. He’s steadfastly cemented himself as an important and respected regional singer-songwriter with a deeply loyal following.