The Sun Sessions

The Texas Two / Dale Watson

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The Sun Sessions Review

by Steve Leggett

Although he recorded it in the legendary Sun Studios, this album isn’t Dale Watson going back to his roots. First, all of the 14 songs included here are originals, although they may sound like they’ve been around for 50 or 60 years, and Watson is no stranger to a stripped-down, sparse, and hard traditional honky tonk style that one certainly doesn’t hear on country radio stations anymore. Watson doesn’t wear a big cowboy hat and his songs don’t fall to the pop side of things. There’s nothing about him that caters to the contemporary notion of what country music is. That makes him a singular artist of sorts, a real musical outlaw in a genre full of handsome, tight-jeaned singing hunks who pretend to be outlaws and name-check everyone from Hank Williams to George Jones. Watson just writes and plays his version of country music as if Garth Brooks were never born. There’s a refreshing strength in that, as this fun set shows. Everything here was recorded live with bassist Chris Crepps and drummer Mike Bernal, and if it evokes a golden era of early Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash, Watson's engaging humor and songwriting skill mean he doesn’t fall prey to nostalgic facsimile. It sounds like a Sun Studios record because it IS a Sun Studios record, but it doesn’t fall outside the work Watson has always done. Call it vintage, but The Sun Sessions is very much a contemporary country album, made more so because it carries the past boldly and proudly into the heart of the 21st century.

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