March 27, 2017
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Quick Spins: Dwight Yoakam is keeping country music honest


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COMMENTARY BY DAN PAVELICH


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KENOSHA NEWS CORRESPONDENT

Dwight Yoakam, “Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars ...” (Sugar Hill)

www.dwightyoakam.com, $14.99

For me, when it comes to honest country music, Dwight Yoakam is the real deal. In the ’90s, when most country artists were trying to cross over to the pop charts and sell out arenas like Garth Brooks, he was having a beer with Buck Owens.

On his latest, Yoakam revisits a bit of his back catalog, backed by a stellar group of bluegrass musicians. “Sad, Sad Music,” “Two Doors Down” and his signature song, “Guitars, Cadillacs,” sound fantastic in this setting. Yoakam’s earthy voice sounds right at home among acoustic instruments.

The real gem of this release is a heartfelt cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain,” which closes out the set.

It just goes to show you, a good song is a good song is a good song.

Whitney, “Light Upon the Lake”

www.whitneytheband.com, $14.99

This release was recommended to me by Jesse, the manager at CD-DVD-Games Warehouse.

We’re lucky to have a local brick-and-mortar music shop in Kenosha, where you can have an actual conversation about music with someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Populated by former members of Chicago’s Smith Westerns, Whitney serves up rambling roots dirges (though they touch on many genres) that often strike me as being reminiscent of The Band and early Bob Dylan.

Singer Julien Ehrlich has a voice that takes some getting used to, which is the only sticking point I hear.

Otherwise, they’re an engaging outfit I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about in 2017. Thanks, Jesse!

Kelley Ryan, “Telescope” (Manatee)

www.kelleyryan.net

The opening track on Kelley Ryan’s latest sort of picks up where her 2012 release, “Cocktails,” left off. It’s a soft, haunting tune, filled with smoky touches of muted trumpet and vibes. Ryan almost sings in a whisper, begging the listener to lean in. The rest of these 10 tracks are similarly engaging.

One of Ryan’s biggest secret weapons is her friendship with Marti Jones, whose background vocals fit like a final jigsaw puzzle piece underneath her own. Their voices beautifully meld throughout, particularly on the pretty “Crack the Sky.” This is pop music as it should be. Highly recommended.

Jan. 27 releases

Various Artists/2017 Grammy Nominees (Atlantic)

Kidz Bop Kidz/Kidz Bop 34 (R&T)

Jackie Evancho/Together We Stand (Sony)

Bash & Pop/Anything Could Happen (Fat Possum)

Randy Newman/A Few Words … (Nonesuch)

Ronnie Baker Brooks/Times Have Changed (Pro)

CDs provided by CD-DVD-Games-Warehouse, 3717 80th St., Kenosha, 262-942-9400.


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