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Jerry Jeff Walker

Gypsy Songman – 1999 (Tried and True Music)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Jerry Jeff Walker

As one of the premier singer/songwriters of progressive country for over three decades, Jerry Jeff Walker's latest collection of primarily remakes is appropiately sub-titled "A Life In Song."

With the aid of co-producer Lloyd Maines on steel guitar and dobro and Richard Bowden on fiddle and mandolin Walker revisits some of his favorite tunes from the past, plus a few new compositions. Most cuts are delivered in his familiar country-folk ballad style. "That BeatUp Old Guitar," in which he fondly remembers his first guitar, and "My Old Man,"a moving salute to his father, reveal Walker's longing for the past.

The tune that stands out stylistically is one of the few new songs. "The Road You Choose," written by son Django Walker, has more in common with today's alternative rock than country. No JJW retrospective would be complete without his biggest hit "Mr. Bojangles," done here in a jazzy style complete with scatting.

Other exceptional tracks are "I Promise To Love You," a new ballad writtenfor wife Susan, and "Little Man," a touching song in which the singer recognizesthe similarities between his son and himself.

Released in conjunction with an autobiography of the same title, this serves as a reminder of Jerry Jeff Walker's brilliant work from the past and promises that the musical journey will continue.