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David Serby

Honkytonk and Vine – 2009 (Harbor Grove)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by David Serby

Like its predecessors, David Serby's third release takes its bearings (as the title suggests) from the style and edge of west coast country music. Naturally enough, that translates into your usual mix of fast and slow, from the high-test honky tonk of Get It in Gear that kicks things off, the hard shuffle of If You're Serious and the propulsive picking of Don't Even Try to the melancholic vibe of Tumble Down and the steel-drenched, moody intensity of I Only Smoke When I Drink.

But Serby also changes things up nicely on several songs, weaving a little bit of soul into Honky Tonk Affair, taking things in a Tex-Mex direction on For Cryin' Out Loud and, on The Grass is Always Bluer, appropriately adding just a tinge of bluegrass.

All of the songs here are Serby compositions, and he shows himself adept at the sort of classic country wordplay that shows up in Permanent Position, for example, where the vocation in question is a station at the end of a bar. As a singer, he has a pleasant, reedy croon that suffers from a tendency to flatten - an occasional detraction from an otherwise sturdy collection of California country.