Tommy Alverson: Country to the Bone (2007) MP3/Flac

Here are some things country artists should generally avoid: songs about how "country" they are, songs about the fact that they're from Texas, and songs in which they compare themselves to Hank Williams. Most can (and some do) get away with one, or maybe two of those errors on a single album, but if you hit the trifecta you're in trouble. That's exactly where Tommy Alverson finds himself on Country to the Bone, an album that compounds the first mistake by naming itself after a rather preachy and obnoxious song that explains what it means to be "country," and one on which Alverson pitches his songs consistently at a key that is about a half-step too high for him to handle comfortably. That's not to say that Country to the Bone isn't fun to listen to -- especially on such honky tonk fare as the Doug Sahm composition "Be Real," the gently swinging "I Can't Convince My Heart," and the excellent Jim Lauderdale song "I'll Be Around," Alverson's musicianship overrides his vocal limitations and his crack band generates a rich and warm accompaniment. (And the Pauline Reese cameo on "Tequila Rose" is especially nice.) But a little bit of pitch correction and a bit more care with the song selection would have made this album significantly better.