Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dwight Yoakam 3 Pears 2012

I really wanted to like this CD. And as it turns out, there's a lot to like about it.

Yoakam can still sing in his twangy, hiccuping Bakersfield style. That's good. He can still write a great song, especially the sad country weepers he has always excelled at. That's good, too.

And songs are the strength of this CD. The rockers are hot (Take Hold Of My Hand, Waterfall, Dim Lights Thick Smoke, 3 Pears), and the ballads are very good (Trying, It's Never Alright, Missing Heart). Long Way To Go is mid-tempo classic Dwight Yoakam melancholy, and the song's reprise at the end of the CD in a piano and voice version is one of the best vocal performances on the disc. There are a few that don't quite hold up: Rock It All Away is just OK, and Nothing But Love and A Heart Like Mine both miss Pete Anderson's guitar. Anderson played guitar and produced every Yoakam CD through Population Me in 2003.

And there's the rub. Yoakam is the only electric guitar player on more than half the CD. Eddie Perez and Jason Faulkner are both good when they appear, but Pete could always dress up a Yoakam song with some tasty licks, and his absence is felt. Yoakam seems to do pretty well producing in Anderson's place, and the sound is good. Ah, but Anderson's great lead guitar breaks are missed.

If Yoakam were really the right guy to produce his own material, he should have known to get a hot shot guitar player to fill twelve bars or so in every song.

Most of the songs are good enough that it's not a big deal. Like I said, there's a lot to like. Maybe it's not fair to hold this one up to This Time or Gone from his mid-nineties heyday. So long as you don't compare it with those, it is a fine outing.

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