Dale Watson

Every Song I Write Is For You – 2001 (Audium)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

Following the tragic death of his fianc+e in an auto accident late last year, Austin honky tonk singer Dale Watson's personal life quickly went into a tailspin that left many fearing for his safety. And not without good reason.

All the more reason why it's a pleasure to have Watson back so soon with this new album; his first for Audium, following a brief stint with Sire that resulted in one unreleased album before he left the label.

The big surprise is that there's so little of Watson's former honky tonk swagger here. As a matter of fact, the album is as serious as a heart attack; clearly the work of a man who's taken a few swings lately from the tire iron of life and is trying to work through a lot of pain. Though there are a few somewhat uptempo western swing-type numbers present, including "You're the Best Part of Me" and "Money Can't Buy Her Love," for the most part Watson keeps to slower tempos this time around, with most numbers enhanced by piano and strings. Watson's lyrics are nothing if not a close-up look at a soul in torment, though Watson is in terrific shape vocally, delivering one of his all-time greatest barroom songs in "One More For Her," in which Watson orders drinks for himself and his departed lover, both of which he drinks down.

In the end, the closest comparison to "Every Song..." is perhaps Ray Price's two classic '60's albums, "Night Life" and "The Other Woman." And like the Price albums, Watson's latest is likely to become a favorite for late-night listening while contemplating lost love that is gone forever.