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Various Artists

XIT - Ten in Texas – 2005 (Icehouse)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson pulled together 10 Texas artists singing blues and country tunes from the pens of Texas songwriters. The album plates Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush and Asleep at the Wheel with Americana stars Dale Watson and Joe Ely, and up-and-coming artists like Aaron Watson. The songs come from a who's who of the state's songwriters, including Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Tubb, Ed Bruce and Buddy Holly.

Ruthie Foster opens with a mouth-watering take of Clark's "Texas Cookin'," and Gary P. Nunn adds the brew with a cover of Rod Steagall's "Lone Star Beer and Bob Wills Music. Texas' musical traditions are further lauded in an old-timey treatment of Billy Joe Shaver's "Honky Tonk Heroes," and Aaron Watson's fiddle-and-steel arrangement of Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways" installs a twangy Lubbock heart in this 1950s orchestral pop classic.

The album's house band provides consistency across most of the disc, with Lloyd Maines' steel, Ray Benson's guitar and Jason Roberts' fiddle serving up the leads. This is more than a collection of tracks waxed over the time and space of multiple studios - it's a celebration of Texas music.