Dale Watson, Graeme James, The Waymores, Brock Davis
Dale Watson - Jukebox Fury
Long time honky-tonk hero Dale Watson is back with a covers album and he goes back about 50-years for some of the songs, like a haunting take on the Bob Seger classic "Turn the Page." Linda Gail Evans joins Watson for the reflective "Always on my Mind," a cut associated with Willie Nelson where she duets and plays piano. Tony Joe White's "Polk Salad Annie" rocks here and its fun, as usual, to sing along to (gator's got your grannie!") Stephen Stills' Vietnam War-era protest song "For What It's Worth" is, unfortunately, as relevant today as it ever was. Classic outlaw country cut "I've Always Been Crazy" is included, with Watson sounding a lot like songwriter Waylon Jennings and Lorrie Morgan adding the female counterpoint. Cuts originally done by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kenny Rogers, America, Roy Head, Gordon Lightfoot, Michael Johnson and Buck Owens are also included. Additional guest players include Steve Cropper and Earl Poole Ball.
Graeme James - Seasons
The sound of high lonesome banjo on "The Fool" opens this album where James sounds appropriately melancholy reflecting on a relationship that could "make all things new." When you hear piano and horn on the album those are played by guests but otherwise James is a one man band playing a dozen instruments here, sounding on "The Tallest Tree," with it pop-meets-Americana melody, like a full band and then some. The cut is one of the few rollicking cuts here; James' specialty is understatement and soft numbers like "Field Notes on an Endless Day," "All the Lives We Ever Lived" with its layered harmonies and the delicate "The Weight of Many Winters" are the cuts that will most enthrall listeners. There's an eerie shipwreck song too; James weaves a tale of "27 good men" as he sings "The Voyage of the James Caird," another cut where he plays lots of instruments.
The Waymores - Stone Sessions
The Waymores are Willie Heath Neal and Kira Annalise and they perform country music the way it was performed in the 1960s, the style that many consider the most authentic form of country music. They draw obvious comparisons to the work of Johnny Cash and June Carter and that notion plays out in their vocal interplay on "Heart of Stone" where Steve Stone adds pedal steel highlights (Neal and Annalise both play acoustic guitar) and the foot-tappin' rhythm of the reflective "Even Then." "Die Right Here" is a slowly told tale, told from each singer's perspective, about a desire to make it big in Los Angeles or New York City, only to dismiss the thoughts as too unlikely. "Caught" is a chronicle of getting busted cheating (with pictures!) that's fun to sing along to, especially Neal's overwrought line "Oh my god, what are we gonna do?" as the joy of a tryst quickly turns to the hottest gossip. The cut features guests Dale Watson on guitar and Katie Shore on fiddle. Most everything here is presented in an upbeat manner but there's plenty of disappointment couched in the pleasant beats and grooves. Yep, classic country!
Brock Davis - A Song Waiting to Be Sung
Singer, guitarist and songwriter Davis waxes reflective on this album's opening cut "I Choose Love," a delicate and sad look at a couple's divorce and the effort to come out of it without bitterness. "I Can't Get Close Enough to You" on the other hand finds Davis singing about the joys of a current relationship, appropriately set to a rocking beat where cooing background vocals add to the sense of elation. Davis puts himself in the shoes of a man singing to his daughter for the tender "Your One and Only Life;" surely the song will resonate with parents everywhere. Guest player Michael Hicks plays Hammond B3 organ on "We Will Rise" which offers a good dose of hopefulness --- something the world and the US in particular surely needs right now --- and the way the pedal steel is played on the song gives the cut a bit of a Jackson Browne feel. While despair mingles with positivity throughout, Davis projects a sense of a man bent not only on surviving but thriving.