Tom Russell

Cowboy Real

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Fans of folksinger Tom Russell won't be surprised to learn that his father was an Iowa horse trader or that his brother is a rancher and cattle supplier; all of his albums leave little doubt that he has the cowboy spirit in his blood. This particular album leaves less doubt than most, though, since Russell focuses exclusively here on his favorite cowboy songs. His warm, evocative voice is in fine form throughout the all-acoustic collection of originals, covers, and adaptations, and the 11 tracks are just about all winners. Highlights include "Zane Grey," a song about a horse that Russell first recorded in the mid-'70s with then-partner Patricia Hardin; "Gallo del Cielo" and "Navajo Rug," both duets with Canadian folkie Ian Tyson; and "Claude Dallas," a tale of a real-life modern-day outlaw who shot two game wardens in Nevada in 1981.

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