Gary Stewart & Dean Dillon

Brotherly Love

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Issued at the end of his tenure with RCA, Gary Stewart teamed up with songwriter Dean Dillon to release this odd little collection of honky and love songs. First, there are only four duets included with the album's ten selections, with the rest being divided up three each between Stewart and Dillon. It's hard to tell if the pair didn't have an album's worth of material each and combined their talents, if this was always set up as a collaboration, or what. No matter, as a collection of songs it works well. Stewart does his usual classic thing, burns down the house with hard rocking country songs that belong in a barroom with thick smoke, bright light, and hillbilly music. Dillon's the more sensitive of the two and was obviously swinging for the Nash Vegas fences. The problem is, of course, his songs are too good. The standouts are the duets by far because they combine each man's strengths that make for a healthy tension -- "Honky Tonk Crazy" and "Firewater Friends" are the best of the lot. But Dillon's "Let's Start a War" with its old-timey feel and poingnat lyric works extremely well, as does Stewart's "Body Shop," which combines Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams, and Chicago blues. The band includes longtime Stewart companions Weldon Myrick on steel, Bobby Thompson on guitar, Jerry Chook on bass, lead guitarist Dale Sellers, and harmonicat Terry McMillan, among others. They provide the loose, rowdy backdrop for these songs that seem to jump out of the speakers. The one duet ballad, "Suburban Life," is a charm of soulful countrypolitan honky tonk with Myrick's whinnying steel and the pair singing about walking out to take up residence in a bar and deciding it's not all it's cracked up to be. There are few questions in music like this other than why there so many songs like this on one record -- on any Stewart record for that matter? Though Dillon's not that different. So here is a pair of reprobates doing what they do best, singing about drinking, working, women, and hassle. This is drinkin' country: aimless, unwavering, and true.

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