Joe Bonson

Love Train

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Joe Bonson might not write many of his own songs on this record, but he certainly has a knack for covering great tunes from country's glorious past with an authenticity rarely found in contemporary country. The first of these toe-tapping gems is Merle Haggard's staple "Mama Tried" that Bonson and his fine supporting cast dive headlong into. The timbre Bonson has is perfect for old country tunes judging by the slow honky tonk of "Jesus and Bartenders," which brings to mind the likes of Moe Bandy, Gene Watson, and George Jones. Another pretty nugget is "Love Train," which chugs along at a nice, tender pace. "I Wouldn't Change You if I Could" is also executed perfectly with Bonson and company nailing the song without losing any of the song's soul. There's also a warmth in each song that makes them flow easily, especially during "All I Have to Offer You Is Me," with Bonson accompanied by some fine guitar accents at the end of each line before a subtle piano is added, resembling the late Charlie Rich more than Charley Pride. The lone rollicking tune here is a cover of Buck Owens' "Just as Long as You Love Me." Bonson's own track, "Dreams," seems to fit in with the other selections, a softer, slower country tune that is bare bones but still brilliant. The closing "More Than Just a Man" might be the only reach or stretch here, but on the whole Bonson has a trademark country voice whether he's covering old staples or his own songs.

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