Friday, April 24, 2015

Dwight Yoakam "Second Hand Heart" Album Review

     After disappearing from the music scene for a few years, Dwight Yoakam came back in a big way in 2012 with 3 Pears. Now, Dwight is making an attempt to tap back into his cowpunk roots with Second Hand Heart. While the album may sound similar to some of his early stuff, it is still very much a modern album that fits in today’s landscape. Second Hand Heart does a good job to make sure that Dwight Yoakam remains the coolest guy in country music.

     When Dwight burst onto the scene in the 1980’s, he brought relentless energy and drive to his music that helped him become labeled as “cowpunk”. It was hillbilly music with the tenacity of the punk world. Second Hand Heart is a little less “cow” and more “punk” than his earlier stuff, but it still sounds great. Most of the tracks have a heavy feel. The album hits a little harder and rocks a little louder than most Dwight albums. Just look at “The Big Time”. Dwight included the demo version of the song from 1989 on the deluxe version of the album. It barely sounds like the same song. The studio version hits you like a ton of bricks. The title track sounds like it was a missing track from 3 Pears, and serves as a nice bridge between the two albums. It is easily my favorite track of the collection. Think 3 Pears meets "Things Change" and you have "Second Hand Heart".  The opening track, “In Another World”, is also a pumping jam that has harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys. “Liar” sounds like a sweaty mess that Dwight recorded with his buddies in his basement in one take (in a good way). “Man of Constant Sorrow” is a cover of the mountain classic like you’ve never heard it before. This version comes at you loud and fast, and demands to be cranked up. Yet, Dwight’s lonesome yodeling voice still makes it retain that melancholy feeling.

      Actually, Dwight’s voice is the glue that keeps this album together. A lesser vocalist taking on these arrangements would sound like a hot mess. Dwight’s voice is just powerful enough to cut through the noise, just lonesome enough to keep the emotional interest, and just twangy enough to make the rocking-est song sound country. Of course, Dwight still includes some great songs that feature a more prominent country sound. “Off Your Mind” is a fall-off-your-barstool honky-tonker, “Dreams of Clay” is a mellow jam, and “V’s of Birds” is a deep and introspective end to the album. The bonus version from Target features the laid back demo of “Big Time”, an enjoyable cover of “Who Will Stop The Rain?”, and a rerecording/alternate version of “Nothing But Love” from 3 Pears. All three are interesting, so I’d recommend getting the extended edition if possible.

     As I mentioned before, Dwight Yoakam is the coolest guy in country music. It’s been said over and over by many different critics, but it is so true you can’t deny it. The guy just oozes coolness. While this album veers closest to rock and roll he’s ever ventured, it is still rooted in country music. Second Hand Heart finds Dwight making some of the most adventurous and artistic music of his career. If you want a hard-charging, fast-paced country rocker, this is your album.

Standout Tracks: "Second Hand Heart", "The Big Time", "Dreams Of Clay", "Man Of Constant Sorrow", "V's of birds", "Off your Mind" 

"Second Hand Heart"
"The Big Time"

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