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Dwight Yoakam A Long Way Home Reprise Yoakam s such an interestng country artist. On one hand, because his attitude towards the country music business is often diametrically opposed to those who are calling the shots, you'll rarely hear him on New Country radio. On the other, because his aesthetic of "true country music" is so traditional ala Buck Owens and MerleHaggard, the writing so limited and narrow, one wonders how he can maintain a careen Juggling this inherent iconoclasm with musical traditionalism says something about his radical stance in country music. His latest record ng is worth mentioning because of this stance. By and large his material is fine, although if I have to hear one more lyric about heartbreak, or being the fooi , or weak knees and a befuddled heart, l'll be driven to drink. The real strength of this work lies in the music and Yoakam's "my way" attitude. Where other contemporary artists often fall into the trap of mimicking the latest trends to assure career ity (note LeAnn Rimes), Yoakam lays his material out and bravely Iets you do with it what you might: hate it, love it, ignore it. This "piss-on-you" attitude coupled with exceptional country singing and music (Yoakam again is backed by guitar extraordinaire Pete Anderson; Skip Edwards, keyboard; Tara Prodniuk, bass; Jim Christie, drums; Scott Joss, fiddle; and Marty Rifkin on pedal guitar) leaves Yoakam in a vulnerable yet powerful position. He's like the hangman tying his own noose. Will the knot slip? We'll just have to perversely wait and see There are two standouts on this 1 3-song recording: "These Arms" and "Maybe You üke It, Maybe You Don't." "Arms" comes straight from the Buck Owens songbook (or should it be by now the Yoakam songbook?) - great harmonies, with abit of big country violins, sweet guitar picking and melodie fiddling and strong vocals. "Maybe You Uke It, Maybe You Don't" is a rave-up version of an earlier cut on the CD, the lumbering "Only Want You More." This version is hot, live, echoey, sweaty: Something you'll probably never hear on New Country radio. It pushes you to the edge, much farther than anything on the country charts today. As always there is enough strong material on this recording to warrant a purchase, plus it's a good idea to support Yoakam if not for the music, for his always refreshing brand of progressivism. ■ Note: Hope Orchestra, a fantastic group from Detroit, will perform on July 24 at Cafe Zola. Their third CD, Gift, will be released on July 17 at a big shindig at The Magie Bag in Femdale. Look for a review of their work next month.


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