Don Walser

I'll Hold You in My Heart

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It's fitting that around the time of this release Don Walser won a National Heritage Award, for this man's voice is a national treasure and qualifies as high Texas folk art. Walser's been doing this for a half-decade, and many of those years as an avocation, so obviously he has not seen the rewards and recognition of many of his classic country peers. The new millennium finds him still keeping swinging country music alive, however -- and in good throat, as I'll Hold You in My Heart attests. He's made his mark with his unparalleled yodeling, and the album kicks off with his unearthly stylings all over the yodeling showcase "Yodeling the Blues." The title track places Walser in ballad mode, and when he punctuates his lonesomeness by shooting glibly up into falsetto, it'll raise the hair on your arms. The Walser composition "El Paso Cowboy" finds Walser alternating between straight, low-histrionic honky tonk singing and short, sweet flourishes of yodeling. He also tackles Merle Haggard's "Hungry Eyes" in a lower register and pays tribute to Haggard and co-icon Buck Owens with the Bakersfield-flavored "Buck & Merle." When it comes to evocative, classic country music, it doesn't get much better than this.

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