Thirty years ago the cosmic cowboy-progressive country sound swept through Austin, the first full-blown scene in what has evolved into Austin music. But of all its trailblazers—Jerry Jeff Walker, Willis Alan Ramsey, Willie Nelson—Bobby Bridger is the one who has stayed most on message. The Houston resident has remained true to his obsession with mountain man and great-great-uncle Jim Bridger, Native Americans, and the settling of the frontier by writing books and performing one-man shows while continuing to make music on the subjects he loves most. He adds to all that with A Ballad of the West, a trilogy that tells how the West was won and lost from the perspectives of pioneers, the Lakota Sioux, and Buffalo Bill Cody. This four-CD set is so lyrically rich it is best approached as an audio book, and taken on those terms, it's the perfect complement to Bridger's life's work.