Here it is folks, the album that could possibly be the last we
hear from Dale Watson, the true country troubadour, for
quite some time. The record has a lonesome sound that could easily
be attributed to his graceful bowing out of the music scene for
a swansong of sorts. Filled with songs of longing
and leaving and loss, From The Cradle To The Grave is the
least honky-tonk of Watson's recordings, but probably the most
Starting with the murder story of "Justice For All",
the tone of the album is set definitively in a dark and brooding
way. "It's Not Over Now" is a slow, sentimental country
dirge that really establishes the new Dale Watson sound; dark
ballads, with no quick, truck-driving twang, but a sad introspective
honky tonk. "Time Without You" is another love song
written in the spirit of the amazing Every Song I Write Is
For You, a song with a deep yearning that lays claim to the
heart immediately. The longing is accented nicely by some fine
slow pedal steel and fiddle playing. "Hollywood Hillbilly"
steps up the tempo just a bit, and features some great steel,
but the closest we get to real barn-burning country honk is album
closer "Runaway Train".
Sprinkled throughout the record are tracks that channel Johnny
Cash in such a sincere way - without being derivative - that
it seems the spirit of the man is still with us. This is no big
surprise, as followers of Dale Watson have always known he draws
tremendous inspiration from Johnny, as well as Johnny's music.
To further enhance that bond is the fact that From The Cradle
To The Grave was recorded in Johnny's old cabin in Tennessee.
There's magic still in those walls, and songs like "From
The Cradle To The Grave" and "Yellow Mama" could
just as easily have appeared on a Cash record at some point. There
is a familiarity to these song that reminds not only of the timelessness
of Cash's music, but also of the impact those songs had on the
world. Watson's voice has aged much like Johnny's did, attaining
a rich mellowness that only comes from age and experience. "Tomorrow
Never Comes" is a trailing dirge with a somber message that
reminds the listener how easily this simple life could pass away,
leaving us with much larger questions.
If fortune does not smile on us, and this is the last we hear
from Watson, I suppose it would be enough
but like his mentor,
I hope Dale continues to record music until the time when he is
no longer able. His songwriting continues to improve and this
batch of songs, especially when viewed in the light of being written
in a 10-day span, really shows the amazing and heartfelt music
of which Watson is capable. God bless the man.
1. Justice For All
2. It's Not Over Now
3. Time Without You
4. Hollywood Hillbilly
5. You Always Get What You Always Got
6. From The Cradle To The Grave
7. Why Oh Why Live A Lie
8. Yellow Mama
9. Tomorrow Never Comes
10. Runaway Train
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