Dale Watson: Dreamland (2004) MP3/Flac

Dale Watson is one of my big honkytonk heros... A real throwback to the days when country stars hit the road, toured hard and showed a little humility while they knocked the socks off of audiences, Watson is about as great a hard country singer as you could ever hope to hear. Thoroughly steeped in the history of real honkytonk and classic commercial country, he is one of the most powerful and confident performers of the last decade. Where most "alternative" country types try to cover up their lack of country roots by clowning around, Watson is the real deal, and he takes his craft very seriously. Fans of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty owe it to themselves to check this guy out.
A natural-born honky tonk genius who's had the poor fortune of being born in the wrong decade (for him not for myself), Dale Watson is the closest thing to Merle Haggard country music has produced since the late '70s, and his rough-hewn cry-in-your-beer style is as sincere as the day is long. For his seventh studio album, Watson has teamed up with another Texan with a fondness for country & western's noble past, Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, and though Dreamland sounds a bit more polished than Watson's best work, Benson certainly understands Watson's approach, and they make a pretty good team for these sessions. Watson has written some terrific songs (favorites include "Pretty Girls," "Honky Tonkers Don't Cry," and "I Wish You'd Come Around"), and Benson has rounded up a great set of pickers to back him up, including Redd Volkaert, Ralph Mooney, and Cindy Cashdollar. If the end result isn't hardcore honky tonk, however it's still honky tonk through and through, and it's an album that would sound great in a beer hall as you knock back cold ones on a Saturday night.