Gene Watson

Because You Believed in Me

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    8
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Gene Watson's second album featured a Top 20 hit in the title track, and a considerably smaller one in "Her Body Couldn't Keep You Off My Mind," whose title is rather more memorable than its tune. These actually aren't the highlights of what's a pretty solid (if slightly laid-back) honky tonk record, with little in the way of slickness beyond the maudlin orchestration of "Because You Believed in Me" itself, and plenty in the way of heartfelt, straight-ahead vocal delivery. Larry Gatlin's "Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall" in particular is an overlooked cut, veering a little close to the kind of balladry more associated with Southern deep soul than country. There's lots of variety, however, from the peppy fiddle'n'steel-driven shuffle "When My World Left Town" and the barroom boogie-inflected "Sorry Willie," to "Hey Louella," which is as close as the material gets to honky tonk stomp. Watson doesn't have the hipster credibility of many other performers of his genre and era, but this is better than many much more widely known albums by bigger acts in the field.

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