Dale Watson: The Truckin\' Sessions, Vol.2 (2009) MP3/Flac

In 1998, Texas country & western singer and songwriter Dale Watson issued his debut volume of Truckin' Sessions for Koch International. It was a stunning collection of 14 self-penned tunes written in the tradition of Red Simpson, Dave Dudley, Merle Haggard, and Red Sovine. Since that time, Watson's cut over a dozen more records in studio and live. All of them could have been written in the 1960s. This is not to say that Watson's merely a historical revivalist: he simply writes and records his songs without the use of modern effects and takes no note of what's happening in the music world of the 21st century. What's more, it works. Watson is one of the most remarkably consistent, prolific, and significant songwriters to emerge from Texas since the '60s, even if no one outside of Americana and hardcore country & western music fans know it.

This second volume in the Truckin' Sessions, issued on New York's Hyena, is every bit the monster its predecessor was and mirrors it from the cover -- which merely shows an older Watson in the same coveralls get-up and pose as he was on the first volume -- to the song count, production values, and excellent sense of craft. For those who think that Watson employs irony in his music, it's best to get that notion out of your head. He is as authentic as Texas two-lane blacktop in the Hill Country outside Austin. Accompanying the songwriter on this set are the venerable guitarist Redd Volkaert (formerly of the Haggard band) pedal steel boss Don Pawlak, fiddle master Don Raby, bassist Gene Kurtz, and drummer David Bowen. This quintet lays down the hard swinging trucker country of the Bakersfield sound in "10-4," the Dave Dudley burners such as "Drag 'n' Fly," that opens the set, and the rockin', honky tonk storytelling country of Haggard in "Yankee Doodle Jean," just to name three. The twinning of the guitars and fiddle make for an irresistible front line, while Pawlak's steel is a shuffling, whining, hot pickin mess of sound right dead set in the center of the mix. Another stunner is "No Help Wanted," just before the end of the set, with a smokin' vocal chorus, and the anthems "I Got to Drive," and "Me and Freddie and Jake" rank with the best of truck driving country from any period. For any punter who enjoyed the first set of these killer trucker's tunes, or any of Watson's albums for that matter, this one will prove just as satisfying.