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THE BABE AND THE MULE
Two big reasons IGA is #1 in marketshare. (8/5a)
YOUR TOP 20 FOLKLORE SEQUEL, WITH DABABY GROWTH AND A CASK
OF BRANDY
Stay awhile, Tay. (8/5a)
COUNTRY STREAMING IS A THING
It's more than just Luke Combs. (8/4a)
NOISEMAKERS: YOUR LATEST SAMPLE PACK
The kids are alright. (8/5a)
GRAMMY CHEW, ALBUMS: 30 FOR EIGHT
Thoughts while noshing six feet apart. (8/5a)
BTS BRINGS IT
They're so dreamy.
VOTE BY MAIL
It's a conspiracy, because everyone does it.
IS IT CHRISTMAS?
No, but we're thinking about cookies.
WOKE MUSIC
Protest songs that sound like now.
Critics' Choice
DWIGHT CHOICE
5/28/15

by Simon Glickman

The rap on Dwight Yoakam, over the years, has been that he’s a dedicated country/rock revivalist mining the Bakersfield sound primarily originated by Buck Owens.

While hardly inaccurate—Yoakam conjures the ruckus and romance of honky-tonk like nobody’s business—that characterization is insufficient. As a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, Yoakam has repeatedly demonstrated mastery of pretty much every roots-derived form: country, rockabilly, ‘60s-style pop, psychedelia, folk, blues … I could go on.

On his latest album, Second Hand Heart (Reprise/Via), Yoakam takes that mastery to a new level; this rambunctious, soulful set should, if there’s any justice, score a slew of Grammy noms in the Americana and/or other roots categories. Personally, I’d submit it as a dark horse contender for overall Album.

Heart, largely produced by Yoakam (with some able assistance and typically explosive mixes from Chris Lord-Alge), comes out of the gate in full gallop. With its chiming guitars and doo-wop backups, opener “In Another World” is a potent cocktail of his pop-spanning influences—and brims with purpose. The message, echoed on each successive track, is that Yoakam is reaching higher at precisely the point in his career when he might be tempted to rest on his laurels. Check the sparkling big-sky pop/rock of “She,” the bittersweet twang of the superb “Dreams of Clay,” the lovely, pulsing title track (with a pinch of piquant yodeling), the playful Sun Studios boom-chuck of “Off Your Mind,” and the Spector-ish “Liar,” for starters.

Is Bakersfield baked into this feast? For sure. But also Nashville, Memphis, Muscle Shoals, El Paso, Liverpool, New York and L.A.

A lot of buzz will likely focus on Yoakam’s take on “Man of Constant Sorrow,” which is full-tilt rock and roll—and insanely satisfying.

There’s plenty more to love on Second Hand Heart, but I expect a lot of buzz will focus on one of the album’s two covers, which was penned by that most prolific and gifted tunesmith, “Trad.” Yoakam’s take on “Man of Constant Sorrow” (most recently an old-timey hit from O Brother, Where Art Thou?) is full-tilt rock and roll, and it’s insanely satisfying.

The penultimate track, “The Big Time”—a  rockin’ blues that recalls late-‘50s Elvis—finds Yoakam admitting, “I ain’t never seen the big time/Honey that’s okay with me…Just a-sittin’ on this front porch/All the big time I’ll ever need.” That he’s followed the music rather than the fame throughout his career is abundantly clear. But isn’t it time to shine a brighter light on the guy? He’s a musical treasure.

Whatever happens, his gaze is upward, and we’re all the better for it. Second Hand Heart closes with the ravishing Anthony Crawford composition “V’s of Birds,” which takes wing on layers of gospel-inflected keys and mandolins, not to mention some of the loveliest singing of Yoakam’s career. The song seeks redemption in a world full of small wonders, and it is a wonder in itself.

With any luck, the V’s those birds spell out will stand for victory come Grammy time.