Cowboy Jack Clement - Guess Things Happen That Way
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Guess Things Happen That Way (Dualtone, 2004)

Cowboy Jack Clement

Reviewed by Ken Burke

Although not in the same league vocally as past associates Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings and Don Williams, 73 year-old producer/songwriter Jack Clement one-ups most of them on the score of imaginative song selection and simple evocative production chops.

Clement's vocals are sometimes craggy and pitchy, yet his melodic old-timey baritone often proves charming. This is especially true of the absurdly humorous polka-tinged "Drinking Carrot Juice" and scatting Dixieland of "Leavin' Is The Lovin' Thing To Do." Moreover, only Cowboy Jack could sell such a surreal, eccentric ditty as "Off To Join The World," wherein a jilted lover vows to run away from the "cruel circus." Not content to stick with his own material, Clement's cover song choices - notably a country boogie version "No Expectations" (Rolling Stones) and a countrypolitan reading of "Dreaming My Dreams With You" (Waylon Jennings) - are surprisingly novel and fresh.

However, the disc's undisputed highlight occurs when Johnny Cash offers vocal counterpoint to Clement's melancholy renditions of "Guess Things Happen That Way" and "Ballad of a Teenage Queen." Weak, yet instantly recognizable, the Man in Black seems to speak from the grave during these poignant renditions of their respective Sun-era hits. The result is a blend of ethereal mood and creative courage that longtime fans of both men will surely savor.

CDs by Cowboy Jack Clement

For Once and For All, 2014

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