Unleashed Live & Dallas Wayne reviews

More roots review from the extensive if not valued Fervor Coulee Archive:GrueneCharlie Robison, Jack Ingram, and Bruce Robison Unleashed Live Lucky Dog (2000)

These singer-songwriters, here recorded live at Texas’s legendary Gruene Hall, are among the cream of today’s alt.country crowd. Each offers clever word play with compelling mini-dramas featuring revenge, regret, and good times.

Bruce Robison comes with a guitar case of uncommonly sharp songs. “Angry All The Time,” a duet with wife Kelly Willis, chronicles the frustrations felt by a guy caught on life’s treadmill, “gettin’ a whole lot older everyday.”

Charlie Robison, Bruce’s brother, performs four rocking numbers originally recorded for his Life of the Party album including “Barlight” and “Sunset Boulevard;” the versions included here are significantly different and benefit from the live setting.

Jack Ingram delivers a fine set of songs, but has stronger ones available in his repertoire. “Mustang Burn” is terrific, but “Barbie Doll” serves as unnecessary filler; songs from his Livin’ or Dyin’ album are more indicative of his considerable writing and performing talents.

Fans of these performers are sure to enjoy this recording which features fresh takes on favourite tracks.

(originally published January 19, 2001 Red Deer Advocate)

DallasDallas Wayne Big Thinkin’ HMG/Hightone Records (2000)

Missouri honky tonker Dallas Wayne is a man with an enormous voice; the uniqueness of his resonating baritone grabs the listener from the first lines of the title track and doesn’t let go until the final refrains.

Included on Big Thinkin’ are twelve songs which cover typical honky tonk ground—drinkin’, lyin’, lovin’—while launching numerous well-placed jabs at the state of commercial country music. “If That’s Country” features the sentiment, “you’re turning our music into some kind of strange elevator noise,” while rightly comparing modern country to “bad Phil Collins with a hick facelift.”

Dallas Wayne pulls no punches.

“Lie, Memory, Lie,” “Coldwater, Tennessee,” and “Old 45’s” would be radio hits if the ‘powers that be’ could beyond the lack of rock ‘n’ roll guitars and stylized vocals.

Dallas Wayne is country music for the masses; it is up to the masses to discover and embrace his music.

(originally published January 19, 2001 Red Deer Advocate)

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