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Billy Don Burns

Heroes, Friends and Other Troubled Souls – 2004 (Indiemafia)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Billy Don Burns

A lot of country singers claim to be outlaws, but it's rare that one is actually good at being both. Johnny Paycheck was definitely a desperado, but he sure couldn't sing. The self-professed outlaws of the early '90s were better musicians than they were mobsters.

And then there's Billy Don Burns. He's led the authentic outlaw life and you can hear it in every note on tracks like "Running Drugs Out of Mexico" and "Dark Side of the Spoon." But he can really sing too, holding his own on "Mississippi" a duet with Tanya Tucker and doing justice to the Johnny Cash Classic "Give My Love to Rose."

Burns has a hardcore case of hero worship; three songs("Haggard & Hank," "Patsy" and "Keith Whitley Blue") are about other singers, and even though he shows good taste, that's too many. It might also be nice to get more than a glimpse of his softer side. But these are minor quibbles. "Heroes..." is a genuine work of art from a member of that almost-extinct breed, musical outlaws.