CD: Gene Watson’s “A Taste of the Truth”

Gene Watson: A Taste of Truth

(Shanachie, 2009):

Yeah, I complain a lot that most of the contemporary country music that you hear on the radio these days sounds like warmed-over semi-twang pop. I’m sorry; I just can’t help it.

Fortunately, this album makes me smile. It’s a classic throwback – not all the way back to those good ole Hank days (Williams-Thompson-Snow), but rather to the mid-’70s, when Gene Watson was a regular on the Country Hit Parade with such nuggets as “Love in the Hot Afternoon,” “Where Love Begins,” “Paper Rosie” and 20 more Top 10 hits.

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At the age of 66, Watson can still break your heart with his country crooning. And he knows his way intimately through the minefield of heartbreaking ballads about lost love, bar rooms, jukeboxes, temptation and “a bad case of lonely.” Fortunately, producer Dirk Johnson doesn’t mess much with Watson’s classic hitmaking sound, and while it would sound a bit retro on today’s country radio, it also sounds simultaneously reassuring and refreshing.

Watson can still rip it up, as evidenced by his honky-tonking duet with Trace Adkins on the rousing country-music-ain’t-dead anthem “We’ve Got Pulse.”

But that’s certainly not his strong suit, and he wisely sticks primarily to the heartwrenchers, pairing up with Rhonda Vincent (a duet on the broken-home, we-need-a-divorce “Staying Together”) and Alison Krauss (the smoldering, friends-with-benefits “Use Me Again”).

Gene Watson steps into the spotlight at the Glad Rags Saloon, 29 Holmes Road, Porter Corners at 8:30pm on Thursday. Tix are $25. Phone number is 518.817.6563.

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One Response to “CD: Gene Watson’s “A Taste of the Truth””

  1. Dirk Johnson says:

    I didn’t seem to find a name of the writer of this review. However I’d like to say thanks for the comolements and nice words about an album that has done very well this year with all sorts of accolades, awards and nominations in almost every possible area for country music. Unfortunately with the way big record business works these days, the major award shows are unreachable for an “older” artist unless he’s been involved on a project as a guest by a younger, mainstream artist. The major labels buying memberships for their employees into NARAS, CMA, ACM, etc…. So they can dominate the voting. To be nominated in all of these cataogries is certainly an honor. If this sounds like sour grapes, I assure you it is not. What “I” want as a producer, musician and lover of traditional country AS WELL AS the new country is NOT to see the “Taylor Swift, Lady Antebelum……” music go away in lieu of the traditional. I would love to see another major charting system emerge to differentiate between NEW country and TRADITIONAL country music. There are obviously lovers of both out there. MILLIONS on BOTH sides of this “battle”. The problem here is that you have no trouble buying, finding and hearing about the newer music. But finding the traditional can be a task for the sometimes older, less technology savvy listener. If there were 2 charts, I believe we would see more mainstream radio stations playing traditional music. More diversity. I’d like to see Nashville door one time EMBRACE traditional country music that this town was built upon. And not just in a retrospective way. Only recognizing the great older music for 5 mins on the award shows. There’s lots of NEW traditional country music being made daily. Hearing it……. That’s the problem.

    As the producer of what I believe to be a great traditional country record on one of the greatest country singers of all time, my job was to “not mess much”, as the writer put it with a great singer doing great music. I tried to make the best country album possible, while facing today’s obstacles and let the music speak door itself while trying to make a sonically competitive album for today’s music. I believe we did.

    Thanks again for the comments and support,
    Dirk Johnson

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