Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dwight Yoakam "3 Pears" Album Review

     It's been around 7 years since we've heard from the king of Country Cool, Mr. Dwight Yoakam.  He tends to keep busy with his movie adventures, but we have been itching for new music from the living legend.  Blame The Vain, his last studio album, was a decent effort, but something was missing.  Whatever it was, he found it here.  3 Pears is a musical treat, and a solid album.

     The first thing that struck me flipping through the liner notes was the fact that there was no fiddle anywhere on this album... For a guy rooted in traditions, this surprised me.  This is a guitar album.  But, Dwight's thick twang and thought provoking storytelling make this fiddle-less cd more "country" than 95% of what you hear on the radio today. Some of the tunes border on the funky side, such as the opener "Take Hold Of My Hand", which features a co-write from Kid Rock (!), and "Trying", which is a solid organ and bass mid tempo ballad.
     Dwight really nails it on "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke", a fast paced country rocker that puts me in mind of one of his biggest commercial hits, "Fast As You".  It's catchy, fun, and an instant sing-alonger.  "Long Way To Go", "Nothing But Love", and "3 Pears"  are classic Dwight, with twangy guitars, his thick, backwoods accent drenched over every word, and creative lyrics that stray far from the bland list songs coming from Nashville today.  "3 Pears" is a Beatles inspired song with trippy lyrics and a smooth rhythm, but Dwight takes trippy to a new level with "Waterfall",  a song about dancing giraffes, rocketships, and ice cream.  Its very similar to a Big Kenny sounding song, but Dwight pulls it off with ease.
   On "A Heart Like Mine", a song co-produced by Beck, Dwight brings out the echo-y twang filled sound that he built his career on.  This song is a gem of this album, and could just have easily been on Hillbilly Deluxe or Guitars, Etc, his first two albums.  "It's Never Alright" is a beautiful country ballad with a heartbreaking theme... "they say it gets better, well I guess that it might, but even if it gets better, it's never alright" Solid gold.
     But, in my opinion, the albums greatest strengths are the last two tracks.  "Rock It All Away" is just classic Dwight, no other way to put it.  It has his signature vocal style, a driving beat, tight harmonies, and abstract lyrics.  It even features a yeahyeahyeahyeah run down heard on songs like "Fast As You".  This is Dwight doing what he does best, and nobody in the business does it like him.
     The final song, a slowed down piano and vocal reprise of "Long Way to Go" features Dwight just showcasing his beautiful voice, and he proves even in the latter years of his career, he still has the chops that got him here.  The lyrics, hopefully, are symbolic of Dwight's career.  Hopefully he still has a lot of field to hoe, and a lot of miles left to roll.  If all was right in the country radio world, this would be played all over, and give Dwight a few more number ones.  But even if the mainstream world has passed him by, Dwight still has the country cool that got him here, and if he keeps bringing us stuff like this, he will continue to please us for long time to come.

Highlighted Tracks: "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke" "Long Way to Go (Reprise)" "Rock It All Away"

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