David Frizzell

Confidentially

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David Frizzell's Confidentially is one of those offerings that makes listeners remember where country music peaked creatively. The new material here is very strong, beginning with "Warm Spanish Wine," a ballad with all the great trappings of a good country song: lost love, regret, memories, and the comfort of alcohol. But this is no hard-bitten honky tonk song; it's full of passion, not pathos. It's a love song that echoes in the hallways of the mind. Frizzell's own "It Takes Me All Night Long," with Jimmy Fortune, is that cut-time honky tonk number, but it's a paean to lost youth. Frizzell's "Why Wasn't It Me" (the second of four originals here), with new duet partner Amy Clawson, offers a portrait of the country singer in astonishing form. His voice erases -- rather than reminds us of -- all the years he's been out there. Clawson's contralto is a perfect foil to float with Frizzell's in this tale of unrequited love, and it comes from the belly as the pedal steel whinnies and whines with strings falling in the middle of the mix and a chorus sweetly crooning behind the entire proceeding. "Cowboy Hats," with Bobby Bare, is a good-time, rollicking country-rocker, full of genuine redneck joy, and a scathing indictment of Nash Vegas business practices; but it is the oddity here, not the rule, and Frizzell sacrifices not one ounce of his integrity, and neither does Bare. While there are many fine songwriters who contribute to this worthy and skillful rebirth of a genuine legend -- Kostas, Roger Alan Wade, Dennis Knutson, Dewayne Blackwell, and more -- it's Frizzell's songs that are the most satisfying here. One can hear not only the heart in his delivery, but the artful craft, the entire history of country music itself. Confidentially is not some half-assed comeback record to put a little cash in the bank for the artist who is lingering in obscurity; it is a major statement, a force to be reckoned with, and a fierce thing of beauty by an artist who changed the music and who is so utterly viable, so completely in possession of his powers as a writer and performer, that his songs should be covered by anyone interested in the real thing.

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