In today's world of assembly line stars packaged by the Nashville establishment to record watered-down C&W, the authenticity of Wylie & The Wild West is a breath of fresh, livestock-rich air. Working as an honest-to-goodness rancher in rural Dusty, Wash., band leader Wylie Gustafson has been playing and recording Western music for more than 13 years while celebrating the American art of cowboy ballads and Western Swing.
Wylie's likable new disc features 16 no-frills tracks that pay tribute to the horseman's lifestyle. The album's strongest cut is the stripped-down swing number "Mmm...Montana." The best covers are the two penned by Sons of the Pioneers' frontman Bob Nolan, "I Grab My Saddle Horn and Blow" and "Happy Rovin' Cowboy" (the latter showcases Wylie's pitch-perfect country yodel). Wylie also performs decent versions of Buddy Holly's "Everyday" and Johnny Cash's "Luther Played the Boogie."
Another high point is the tribute to Bob Wills on the original instrumental, "76 With a Miss." Wylie further displays the breadth of his talent when he takes a Tex-Mex Mariachi turn on "Manolito." And if there's any doubt that Wylie's the real deal, his romantic two-step "A Good One" will make you want to dance in circles around the barn floor even if you live in the heart of the city.