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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Dwight Yoakam

MUSIC REVIEWS

Dwight Yoakam-Population Me (Electrodisc/Audium/Koch)

After years of being a prestige artist that his label Reprise Records never quite knew what to do with, Dwight Yoakam has finally gone his own way and created his own label being distributed by an indie to get his fascinating blend of rock and roll and roots country to the world.  Well, he may be changing the way he is marketed, but you better be damned sure Yoakam ain't gonna change his musical style. 

Population Me starts off on a high note with the wonderful rock-bluegrass hybrid "The Late Great Golden State" a song that should get airplay on every AAA station in the country but has no shot of ever making it onto country or rock radio.  (That's radio's loss, not the song's...)  "No Such Thing" would have felt right at home on the stage of the Ryman in 1963. 

Yoakam can also flex stylistic muscles from the Mersey-beat "An Exception To the Rule," to the gentle folkish strum of "The Back of Your Hand," to the lovely old school country laments "If Teardrops Were Diamonds" (a gorgeous duet with Willie Nelson) and "Fair To Midland." 

Not everything quite works here, a bluegrass workout of the Bacharach/David nugget "Trains & Boats & Planes" sounds a little better in theory than in practice, where the down-home instrumentation overwhelms the delicate tune a bit.  But just the fact that he would try it is why you got to love Dwight Yoakam.  (8/03)

Alex Diamond

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Copyright 1997-2003 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Revised: August 05, 2015.

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Dwight Yoakam-Under The Covers (Reprise)

Dwight Yoakam has always occupied an uncomfortable place in the music world. Too country to be embraced by rock labels, too rock to make inroads in Nashville, Yoakam and like-minded compatriot Steve Earle have always been loved by critics but fell through the cracks for the public.

In his first album since his acting breakthrough in Sling Blade, Yoakam seems dedicated to blurring the line even more. For example, on this all remakes album, Yoakam recasts the Clash's "Train In Vain" as a bluegrass swing jam, and damned if it doesn't work. Then he refashions the Kinks' "Tired Of Waiting For You" as a nouveau cocktail jazz jam.

Even when he stays fairly faithful to the source material, like on Danny O'Keefe's brilliant but nearly forgotten "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues," Yoakam plumbs the emotion inherent in the lyrics about the sudden realization that you are in your thirties and all of your friends have grown up around you and left you behind. Even the potential novelty of Yoakam and Sheryl Crow playing Sonny & Cher in "Baby Don't Go" works surprisingly well.

Unlike most all covers albums where the singers just regurgitate the songs, Yoakam takes the time to completely rethink them. The results are never less than fascinating. (9/97)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 1997-2003 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved. Revised: August 05, 2015.

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