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Various Artists

Austin Country Nights – 1995 (Watermelon)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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Did those of us who don't live in Texas really need another reason to eat our hearts out? This collection of tracks by veterans of the Austin club scene could make a lot of Yankees want to hop a plane to the Texas capitol. All tracks were recorded especially for this album, and far from being a throwaway like many such projects, this is a solid album-of-the-year candidate. The (relatively) known quantities present are Dale Watson, Don Walser, Ted Roddy, and The Wagoneers (reformed just for the occasion), and they each turn in a solid track.

But even better are some whose music has never crossed Texas borders. Roy Heinrich's "A Face In The Crowd" and Cornell Hurd Band's "I Cry, Then I Drink, Then I Cry" are honky-tonk classics. Bruce Robison (with Kelly Willis on harmony vocals) turns in a gem with "Poor Man's Son," and his brother Charlie ends the vocal portion of the album with a very strange, but endearing, track, "Sunset Boulevard." There isn't a bad cut in the lot, and if it's the closest you're going to get to Austin, get it quick.