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Dale Watson

The Truckin' Sessions: Volume Two – 2009 (Hyena)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Dale Watson

Combining elements of Western Swing with twangy Bakersfield and dashes of rockabilly, Dale Watson has fashioned a zingy 14-song set that glorifies the lives of road jockeys with as much panache as his 1998 Volume One set.

Utilizing the hard-twang skills of guitarist Redd Volkeart, pedal steel master Don Don Pawlak, fiddler Don Roby, bassist Gene Kurtz and drummer David Bowen, Watson summons the sound of Buck Owens's Buckaroos (Truckin' Man") and Merle Haggard's Strangers (10-4). Haggard's influence on the Texas-born singer-songwriter's vocals is most prominent on the working man anthems (Hey Driver, No Help Wanted") and one exquisite death ballad (Let This Trucker Go). Yet, Watson is too clever to be dismissed as an imitator.

Amid snappy Johnny Paycheck-style nostalgia (Jack's Truckstop and Cafe) and Dave Dudley-tinged trucking odes (Ma and Freddie and Jake) reside some memorable, lighthearted fare. One odd yet, funny tune about a gay CB radio user (Truckin' Queen) is based on a true story. Another, written from the perspective of a truck (Hero), showcases a surprising sense of anthropomorphic empathy. Watson wrote/co-wrote all the tunes, and a few are a little thin lyrically. However, the set never drags, and the execution is eminently road worthy.