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.
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.