Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Dale Watson and His Lone Stars - El Rancho Azul Continental Song City


Dale Watson has always taken an admirable stance on his country music beliefs and the genre has been enriched by this stalwart purveyor of the traditional sound. There was a brief flirtation with the Nashville hierarchy many years ago but in all honesty this was never going to work and the ensuing years has seen the prolific adopted Texan remain true to his integrity. Hot on the heels of 2010’s CARRYIN’ ON’ and 2011’s SUN SESSIONS, the honky tonk warrior has gone back to the studio and the result is EL RANCHO AZUL, another fourteen track album that covers all the bases of the trademark Dale Watson sound.

The objectives of this recording are merely to whisk you off to a Texas dance hall and intoxicate you in a sound that while harking back to a traditional era is still very much alive in today’s Lone Star juke joints such as the Broken Spoke in Austin and Ginny’s where Watson is an institution. His backing band, The Lone Stars, return to play on a record that is a pick n’ mix of country music subject content. This release will be lapped up by Watson fans far and wide with drinking, love and family songs all being underpinned by a dance-inspired mood that transmits rhythmic messages right down to your cowboys boots.

Dale Watson has certainly not held back on the drinking songs on this album. At the last count we had ‘I Lie When I Drink’, ‘I Drink to Remember’, ‘I Hate to Drink Alone’ and – yes! you start to get the picture – ‘Drink, Drink, Drink’. By the time the album closes with ‘Thanks to Tequila’, the metaphorical hangover is starting to kick in. However this is far from a clich├ęd set of songs as each one is cleverly constructed with an avalanche of bass, pedal steel and fiddle giving this an authentic sound as you can expect from any release.

The versatile impact of this record is maximised at its core when Watson pairs a couple of tracks designed to keep those Texas dance halls moving. ‘Quick, Quick, Slow, Slow’ and ‘Slow, Quick, Quick’ are the appropriately named tunes that will leave any beat laden line dancing number trailing in the distance. On the theme of dance styles, ‘We’re Going to Get Married’ is your archetypical frantic western swing style fiddle tune while in contrast the emotional ‘Daughter’s Wedding Song’ slows things right down as every true waltz should. Watson also takes a little detour north to replicate the Memphis rock n’ roll sound in ‘Give Me More Kisses’.

These fourteen original songs are set to seal Dale Watson as one of the leading advocates of the traditional sound and, in the eyes of some, as the true spirit of country music. Perhaps the debate on the soul of the genre can be put on one side for a moment and fans of all strands of the music can unite around the charismatic and inspirational Dale Watson. EL RANCHO AZUL has put a very early marker down as the country record of the year. The challenge is on for others to match the maestro.

                                          I Lie When I Drink

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