Dale Watson may very well have been born at the wrong time. The 14 original songs on "The Sun Sessions," a tribute of sorts to the instantly-recognizable sound of the early country and rock records produced by Sam Phillips at his Memphis-based Sun Studios, are all the proof you need.
Joined for the first time by Chris Crepps (upright bass) and Mike Bernal (snare and muted guitar), a group dubbed The Texas Two in an obvious tip-of-the-hat to Sun Studios legend Johnny Cash and his Tennessee Two, Watson channels Sun veterans like Cash, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis for a tight set of new songs with a classic rock/country/rockabilly sound.
Although he is a modern-day honky tonk master, Watson leaves his typical twangy barroom hero style at the front door and in doing so proves that he is equally adept at playing the "boom-chicka-boom" sound popularized by Cash and the other Sun stars of the past. This sound is especially evident on Down Down Down Down Down, If You Know What's Good For You, Elbow Grease, Spackle And Pine Sol and Gothenburg Train, an homage to Cash's classic locomotive songs.
Just like a good biscuit, some of the best moments here are light and tender. I've Done That Before is a playful and happy ditty, Her Love is a powerful statement of devotion and My Baby Makes Me Gravy clearly proves that the path to Watson's heart runs through his stomach.
"The Sun Sessions" succeeds because Watson makes the connection between the world-changing sounds produced at the tiny studio on 706 Union Ave. in Memphis and the music he creates as a traditional-minded contemporary artist.