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Roger Wallace

Hillbilly Heights – 1999 (Texas Music Round-Up)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Roger Wallace

The album takes its title from the nickname of an Austin apartment complex in which Roger Wallace and numerous other musicians have lived. But "Hillbilly Heights" is just as valid as a description of the music the disc contains. It's hard to say whether this Tennessee native is better at singing or songwriting, but that's only because Wallace is so good at both.

Wallace realizes that "traditional" country music covers a variety of styles, and he can write 'em or sing' em in each style. So the hard-core honky-tonk of "Wishful Drinking" and "The Runaround" is balanced by the Western swing of "Don't Nobody Love Me (Like My Baby)" and the Hank Williams-ish "That's What I'm Gonna Do."

There are four covers, including Faron Young's smash "Your Time's Coming" and Wynn Stewart's classic ballad (never a hit) " I Don't Feel At Home." The eight Wallace originals that sound too good to be new are the real proof that this guy is a force to be reckoned with. This could be the finest album to come out of Austin all year, and that's saying something.