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Uncle Walt's Band

An American in Texas – 2019 (Omnivore)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Uncle Walt's Band

"An American in Texas" was originally released in 1980 as a reunion album for the Austin-based Uncle Walt's Band with an enticing mix of jazz, folk, pop and country. The strongest country track is Champ Hood's honky-tonk tale of lost love "Last One To Know" in which Hood contemplates warning others not to suffer his fate ("Maybe I/Since I'm wise to your game/Should tell your new lover so"). Hood also contributes the jazzy "Sad As It Seems" highlighting smooth Mills Brothers style harmonies with bandmates Walter Hyatt and David Ball.

Ball's uptempo "Don't You Know" has a Beatlesque feel to it, while on the ballad "You Keep Me Holding On" Ball's vocal is reminiscent of Roy Orbison (though without the operatic crescendo). Hyatt's folksy "Too Far To Fall" tells of the difficulty of moving on after a failed relationship ("I don't want to start again/This time I gave it all"), while in "Deeper For Love" Hyatt fondly recalls a departed loved one ("When I remember your life/I remember mine").

In addition to the 12 original tracks there are 13 bonus cuts, including four recorded live, that essentially make this a double album. The live take on Hyatt's "Outside Looking Out" particularly spotlights Ball's standup bass, while the studio recording of Ball's "She'll Be There" showcases Hyatt on guitar and Hood on fiddle.

Though "An American In Paris" failed to attract a larger audience for Uncle Walt's Band, they remained popular in Austin until parting ways in 1983 with Ball eventually finding mainstream success with "Thinkin' Problem," Hood becoming an esteemed sideman (Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Blaze Foley), and Hyatt recording well received solo projects including 1990's "King Tears" produced by Lovett. With this expanded re-release Uncle Walt's Band receives some belated though well-deserved attention.