CD Reviews
Sunday, 28 April 2013
Maurice Hope

Dale Watson & His Lonestars “El Rancho Azel”

Continental Record Services, 2013

  • Straight ahead, unabashedly traditional country is what you get every time Texan Dale Watson either records or performs live and his latest album “El Rancho Azul” is no different.

Watson’s music is adorned in the old country ways of John Cash, Merle Haggard, Lefty Frizzell and the likes, barroom spit and sawdust fare. He writes his own songs too, as he has done for years. Country music is tattooed across his heart. He is able to call Willie Nelson (“I am his biggest fan!) and Hank Williams 111 (“The Saviour of country music”) among his many admirers; the album was in fact recorded in Willie’s Austin, Texas Pedernales Studios. Though lots of his material is directed at the barroom dance crowd, venues all the time back home it is still great music to sit and listen too. That is if you can sit still long enough, for his music is very much good time fare that goes perfectly with a good beer.

Aided by his band of Don Pawlak (pedal steel), Mike Bernal (drums) and Chris Creeps (upright bass) plus guest piano, fiddle act Texas stalwart Danny Levin (who I remember many moons ago playing in Kimmie Rhodes band; and he is all over this album) the record is full of great toe-tapping music. As Watson and the boys speak of partying on tequila, smokey old bars, getting married (hot footing biggie “We’re Gonna Get Married”) and “The Daughter’s Wedding Song”, dancing “Quick Quick Slow Slow” and “Slow Quick Quick” plus with a little swing in the mix “Give Me More Kisses”. Plus of course there is “Drink Drink Drink” which has him in a mood to become merry.

While this is not the strongest set of songs he’s ever written, fans of the music — which covers trucking country and those into rockabilly (he has a whole bunch of followers there too) his song “I Can’t Be Satisfied” with fiddle and a little Waylon Jennings’ back beat guitar is a keeper. Oh, I haven’t mentioned this before but Dale is a fine electric lead guitarist and would have walked into any top country legend’s band back in the day. Of a sing-a-long, crowd-pleasing live feel they don’t come any bigger than “I Lie When I Drink” with the neat phrase of and I drink a lot plus “Thanks To Tequila”. While “Where Do You Want It” and the clever “I Drink To Remember” which has a heap of old country nous has it all. Great fiddle, rhythm, tinkling piano and steel guitar in support of his vocals.

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