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Aaron Watson

Live at the World's Largest Rodeo Show – 2018 (Big Label)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Aaron Watson

Listening to a concert album can never completely replicate experiencing an artist in person, but Aaron Watson's "Live at The World's Biggest Rodeo Show" comes close. Watson performs these 14 songs with such enthusiasm, it's tough to avoid getting caught up in his jubilant celebration.

He covers a lot of lyrical ground, expressing patriotism with both "Raise Your Bottle" and "They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To," love of family with "Bluebonnets (Julia's Song)" and the trials and tribulations of sticking to one's traditional country music guns on "Fence Post." Make no mistake about it: the boots sung about with opener "These Old Boots Have Roots" have been worn for physical work, not merely for fashion. Watson's the real deal.

Watson salutes cowboys (and not the urban variety) with "That's Why God Loves Cowboys." It's sung with a gospel fervor as it praises hard workers. Similarly, Watson is committed to traditional country music the same way cowboys are dedicated to their rural lives. "I'd rather be just an old fence post in Texas," Watson confesses during "Fence Post," "than to sell my soul to rock n' roll or rap or those tight fittin' skinny jeans."

No doubt, a record executive has told him he has "no commercial appeal," as he sings in the song. Chances are good, too, that many of today's biggest country stars have made this same vow - at least in the beginning. However, Watson kept his word. The reward for his dedication is a live album like this one, filled with strong traditional country songs.