Dale Watson

The Truckin Sessions Trilogy

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Dale Watson is a "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of a guy if there ever were one; Watson's true love is pure, 100-percent honky tonk in the manner of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, and he's been cutting new records that sound like they could have come out of Bakersfield in the mid-'60s ever since 1995's Cheatin' Heart Attack. There aren't a lot of left turns or creative changeups in Watson's catalog; he sings tough but heartfelt country tunes like he was born to it, and he's always happy to deliver his trademark sound for his loyal fans, just like Merle and Buck. Like lots of folks with a taste for classic honky tonk music, Watson has a major soft spot for songs about trucks (big rigs, not pickups as fetish objects) and the guys who drive them for a living, and he's recorded two full albums devoted entirely to trucking tunes in the manner of Dave Dudley or Red Simpson, 1998's The Truckin' Sessions and 2009's The Truckin' Sessions, Vol. 2. Now Watson has cut a third set of trucking numbers, and has packaged them with the first two albums in a set called The Truckin Sessions Trilogy. Though these tracks were cut over a stretch of 16 years, Watson and his bandmates give these songs a tight, uniform sound that's lively and honors classic style while embracing the energy and excitement of the here and now. Watson's deep, burnished voice is just the right instrument for these songs, and his pickers (especially Don Pawlak on pedal steel and Jason Roberts on fiddle) are just as committed to traditional honky tonk standards as Watson. While Watson likes his records to sound old, he's not afraid of updating his themes; GPS systems and satellite radio have entered the world of his gear jammers, he embraces diversity with a tune celebrating an Asian female trucker named "Kitty Liang," and "Truckin' Queen" is a surprisingly non-judgmental song about a cross-dressing trucker from Oklahoma City. Watson even finds love among the long-haul drivers in "We're Truckin Along," a duet with Amber Digby about a pair of married drivers who juggle relationships, career, and the trials of living in the cab of a semi. Longtime Dale Watson fans will be less than pleased to have to buy the first two albums in the Truckin' Sessions series again so they can have the 14 new tracks on the Truckin Sessions III disc (they might try buying them separately through a digital retailer), but fans of old-school country who love songs about 18-wheelers will eat this up, and if you've heard and enjoyed any of the Truckin' Sessions discs, you'll bust a clutch over this three-volume set.

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