Roger Wallace's infusion of classic honky-tonk and country styles transcends any retrograde motion. Wallace's originals and covers, including titles recorded by Don Gibson ("I Ain t Gonna Waste My Time"), Roy Clark ("I Never Picked Cotton") and Johnny Horton ("The First Train Heading South"), wear their influences fiercely. At the same time, his music retains the vitality that makes waltzes, two-steppers, and upbeat rockabillies such vital languages.
Hank, Lefty, and the Possum reverberate through a contemporary sensibility drawn from Wallace's adopted Texas surroundings. "Drinking or Crying" is powered by the road-warrior style of Dale Watson. The waltz-time title track shares the old-soul emotion of Jack Ingram, and the entire LP shows off a confidence and sophistication reminiscent of George Strait. Dashes of Roger Miller's playfulness and Marty Robbins' romance add a few non-Texan touches. All-star Austin backing (including Marty Muse, who has twanged his steel guitar for everyone from The Derailers to Jello Biafra) provides the perfect vintage contemporary setting.
Unlike young artists who slump on their sophomore release, Wallace has refined, magnified and expanded everything that was right with his debut. The result is one hellaciously fine LP. (A HREF=http://www.texasmusicroundup.com>Texas Music Round-Up