Dale Watson: Whiskey or God (2006) MP3/Flac

With his beetle brows, his occasional penchant for lyrics dealing with damnation and salvation, and his startlingly deep and resonant voice, you might be forgiven for mistaking Dale Watson for a honky tonk version of Nick Cave. Then again, the whole idea of a honky tonk version of Nick Cave is weird enough that maybe you wouldn't be forgiven after all. And besides, for all of his themes of heartbreak and loneliness, Watson is clearly having much more fun than Cave ever has, and this odds-and-sods collection (containing "some old songs that I had written but never recorded and have received many requests for at live shows") finds him having even more fun than usual, with tunes that he takes just seriously enough to keep in the repertoire but not seriously enough to weigh them down. Hence the barroom genius of songs like "It Hurts So Good" and the joyfully anguished "Sit and Drink and Cry," and the rip-roaring Cajun two-step of "I Ain't Been Right, Since I Been Left." "I Wish I Was Crazy Again" contains the brilliant couplet "You know they say I went crazy/And by crazy I mean mentally insane," "Truckin' Queen (I Got My Nightgown On)" is, yes, about a transvestite truck driver, and "Tequila and Teardrops" flirts dangerously with Latin jazz. What kind of honky tonk country music is this? The whacked-out kind, which is to say, just about the very best kind.
****  MF  RS