Artist: Dale Watson
Album: Call Me Insane
Label: Red House Records
Release Date: 06/09/2015
You can usually count on two things – Dale Watson’s consistency and Lloyd Maines’ superb production. They team up here to make a very solid, authentic honky-tonk record, one that brings me back to the days of driving across Tennessee and Kentucky, tuned into Nashville’s WSM during the heyday of country and outlaw country music in the early 80s. Watson even performs a tribute to George Jones on the record, “Jonesin for Jones,” in a baritone voice that sounds as if it could have come directly from the Possum himself. The Austin-based Watson really has more of a Bakersfield sound, accented by Don Pawlak’s stellar pedal steel, than a Texas style, but nonetheless the album is wonderfully paced, with enough foot-stompers to frame the album’s real highlights: some seriously killer ballads.
“Burden of the Cross” is a deeply personal weeper, depicting a roadside marker being displaced for a wider highway. In 2000, Watson’s fiancée lost her life in a car accident, and it would seem that her memory inspired the tune. “I Owe It All to You” has the expressive Watson thanking his woman’s ex for destroying the relationship. Country music is seldom any better rendered than on those two tunes. There is also requisite humor as found in “Heaven’s Gonna Have a Honky Tonk” and the album’s sole cover and closer, Tony Joe White’s “Mamas Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow Up to Be Babies.” Throughout it all, Watson and his band are exemplary and are even joined on some tracks by The Honky Tonk horns. My only quibble with the album, and it’s a small one, is that it might be just a tad long. In any case, it’s another very strong effort from Watson, who is touring the record as we speak. Get your dancing shoes ready.