Wylie & the Wild West

Ridin' the Hi-Line

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Wylie hits his stride full-on here, turning in not only his best collection of original songs, but some of the purest, sincerest music to grace the genre in years. If Way Out West's unsaddled energy left a gimmicky (but ecstatic) impression, and Total Yodel! was reverent almost to the point of irrelevance, Ridin' the Hi-Line takes the best elements of both and transforms them into an album that stands alongside the best country records of all time. It's not just that Wylie's songwriting hits its peak here, but the production is nuanced and enriching in all kinds of ways, from the addition of clarinets and vocal harmonies to the crisp reverb of dancefloor swingers like "Jitterbug Boogie" and "Ol' Coyote." He's also helped immensely by the addition of two new and outstanding guitarists, Ray Doyle and Duane Becker, whose effortless musical rapport fleshes out every detail. Wylie's love for cowboy life really comes into its own here as well, as self-penned songs like the gorgeous "Ridin' the Hi-Line" transcend nostalgia to the point of becoming modern classics.

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