DALE WATSON – Jukebox Fury

Cleopatra 2022

DALE WATSON –
Jukebox Fury

With Ameripolitan agenda set aside, alt-country fugitive runs for cover of familiar fare.

Fiercely independent in his decades-long search for authenticity, this outlaw-scene veteran has eventually succumbed to the greatest temptation of all: an all-out album of outsider material – and served up an uneven, yet ultimately compelling, set of songs, with a few strategically positioned guests to enhance his choices of classic pieces. Watson may not really move far from the idiom he’s been pursuing for years, but there’s always a twist in Dale’s reading of favorites, even though he doesn’t bring a lot of personality to the table. However, when the Texan branches out into rockabilly, the adventurousness of his approach is undeniable.

That’s why, while Watson refreshes such staples of his genre’s repertoire as “Polk Salad Annie” whose twang is sharpened into robust, albeit spiked with funk, riffs by the platter’s co-producer Danny B. Harvey’s six strings which shift around Dale’s booming vocals, and “Act Naturally” where his honeyed voice is accompanied by a few members of THE HILLBILLY MOON EXPLOSION, including singer Emanuela Hutter, it’s in the duet with Linda Gail Lewis on “Always On My Mind” that he fully connects, at least in terms of vocals, to country’s true feelings. Still, the American warbler ups the stakes, engaging in a lines exchange with Lorrie Morgan on “I’ve Always Been Crazy” and coming across as quite a tremulous performer, before Earl Poole Ball’s ivories make the number much merrier, and dusts off “Treat Her Right” in the esteemed company of Steve Cropper, taking the sax-smeared catchy cut to the sawdust-covered hootenanny.

So although the harmonies-infused “A Horse With No Name” and “For What It’s Worth” won’t work in the same impressive manner as the rest of the tracks, the reimagined rock perennials “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” and “Turn The Page” – the record’s profound, vibrant opener – will showcase Watson’s envy-inducing, earth-shattering pipes to great effect. Of course, there’s also stately balladry of “Bluer Than Blue” that Del’s velvet delivery elevates beyond maudlin horizon, yet the songs on “Jukebox Fury” fare the best with the punch in their heart – and there’s a lot of punch on this album.

****

April 12, 2022

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