Dwight Yoakam

This Time

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Six years after his monumental debut recording, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., Dwight Yoakam is still delivering the goods. After inadvertently (and unwillingly) being credited with creating the new traditionalist movement, Yoakam takes his hard-edged country influences from Buck Owens, Johnny Horton, Ray Price, and Merle Haggard and expands them to include new instruments and textures as well as voices -- one can hear in these broken love songs the voice of Gene Pitney as well -- and come up with something new again. This Time is not a party record in the way his first pair of albums were. Take the first half of Buenos Noches From a Lonely Room and add a marvelously played Hammond B-3 courtesy of Skip Edwards and keep the downer flow going and you got it. Buck Owens' spirit appears on "This Time," a song that, while deep in the Bakerfield groove, has a more elegiac tone thanks to Yoakam's songwriting collaboration with country songsmith legend Kostas (who first worked with Yoakam on If There Was a Way); they wrote half the album together. Kostas' lush approach to melody is not alien to Yoakam's as demonstrated by the tunes Dwight penned himself -- "Pocket of a Clown" (with a doo wop backing chorus in swing harmony) and the devastating ballads "A Thousand Miles From Nowhere" and "Home for Sale," among others. But in Kostas Yoakam found a writer as interested in textures as in unique ways to use his voice. "Two Doors Down" is a stunning example, as is the lone cover on the disc, by Kostas and James House, "Ain't That Lonely Yet," where Yoakam moves into Roy Orbison territory with strings and lush backdrops that meld Bakersfield with Pitney's conceptual mini-soundtracks and the arrangements on Jim Reeves' best records. With production help from Dusty Wakeman (Lucinda Williams' self-titled and Sweet Old World albums), Pete Anderson was able to add depth and dimension to an already full sound. The echoes of early rock and soul entwine the honky tonk tempos and instruments and become something wholly other. This album is a welcome addition to Yoakam's formidable catalog. This Time is no sell out; it's a new way to present the timelessness of hard, torn, wasted-love country love songs with less reckless sentimentality and more honest emotion.

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