As its title suggests, Tom Russell's Indians Cowboys Horses Dogs finds him returning to the sound of the Southwest and the Old West in a combination of originals and covers. He has dug into his record collection and found a clutch of appropriate material including Marty Robbins' "El Paso," Peter La Farge's "The Ballad of Ira Hayes" (prefaced by two spoken word character studies of Native Americans), and Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" (on which he alternates verses in the nearly ten-minute track with Eliza Gilkyson and Joe Ely). Less well-known are Linda Thompson's "No Telling," Woody Guthrie's "East Texas Red," and Dylan's overwrought early song "Seven Curses." Russell's own compositions fit in well with the Western imagery of these story-songs. In the leadoff track, "Tonight We Ride," he quickly name-drops Pancho Villa, and his lyrics about dogs and horses, while providing a bit of comic relief, are much in keeping with the rest. Russell sings in a rough voice that occasionally breaks into falsetto yelp, as his and Andrew Hardin's interweaving guitars make up the main part of the drumless arrangements. This is a rough-hewn, low-key effort, well represented by the Russell paintings that grace the CD package, looking like examples of Southwestern folk art.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann