This week’s Compact Capsules stays on a country role. Last week a couple of Texas honky tonkers in Johnny Bush and Justin Trevino. We complete things this week with one more from the Lone Star C&W ranks, the terrific new album from Austin-based Dale Watson.
From The Cradle To The Grave
Hyena Records HYN-9357
The spirits of C&W icons like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard have always loomed large over the music and songs of Austin honky tonker Dale Watson. A tried and true upholder of the “real” stuff over the course of a nearly 15 year recording career, Watson’s latest called From The Cradle To The Grave finds him serving up yet another stellar round of real-deal, 100-proof country music, or as he has taken to calling it, Ameripolitan music. Forever labeled too country for country radio, for this recording Watson retreated to the Tennessee mountain cabin home of his friend, the actor Johnny Knoxville. It just so happens that said cabin formerly belonged to Johnny Cash. That connection inspired Watson to reach deep during the writing and music making process embracing the aura of The Man In Black. The result is a 10 song collection that plumbs the depths of the C&W song psyche while at the same time using Cash as its inspirational springboard. The selections span the “Ring of Fire” tinged ballad “Justice For All” which leads off the collection to the Haggard-esque “You Always Get What You Always Got” to the hard charging boom-chicka closer “Runaway Train” on which Watson sprinkles in a few Cash lyrical snippets as the song fades out. If it sounds like there’s aping going on here, surely there is some. But, Watson’s “Ameripolitan” sounds remain fresh and highly listenable. (Hyena Records, 156 12th Street, Suite 4R, Brooklyn, NY 11215, or www.hyenarecords.com)
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)