The other day I was chatting with a gentleman in our neighborhood about the Waterfront Concert lineup for 2015. He asked if I was a fan of country music. I replied that I did like some country performers like Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, that style I do enjoy. He smiled and said, “Oh, so you like alternative country.” After I second, I realized his remark was serious. I explained that, in my neck of the woods, we call those performers traditional country artists. Then I beat feet out of that conversation because no good was going to come from me discussing bro country.
Thank God for Dwight Yoakam.
I haven’t followed Yoakam’s work closely for a few years, but I did my homework and found that I have been missing out. My thanks to WKIT 100.3, Stephen King’s Home of Rock and Roll, for sending over Yoakam’s latest release, Second Hand Heart.
Full disclosure – by 1987, I’d blown out my first cassette tape copy of Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. and was on my way to driving my college roommate nuts because I played Yoakam as loud as the little old speakers could go. This continued for several years. Dwight Yoakam’s Bakersfield style, honky tonk, Kentucky croon still gives me goosebumps. Of course, I love Buck Owens, too.
I realize that not all contemporary country fans have a palate for Yoakam, but for those who love the more traditional country sound, his latest release is a sweet breath of fresh air. Second Hand Heart is finely balanced and crafted, showing off Yoakam’s skill in all things country music. Not as heavy on the vintage Grand Old Opry groove and steel guitar as his early work, Second Hand Heart has the same vibe; the same storytelling; the same impeccable timing and vocal work; the same intricate composition. All ten tracks are strong, but I’m partial to the smoky “Believe,” I love the guitar work “In Another World,” and “The Big Time” is just perfect country. Here, take a listen for yourself to “Second Hand Heart.”
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