Dale Watson – From the Cradle to the Grave Review

Is country music dead? If the cover of the new Dale Watson release “From the Cradle to the Grave” contains any insight the answer is a resounding yes. There Dale stands like a hybrid Pauly Walnuts from the Sopranos and the Unknown Hinson looming sepia soaked in a grave yard. Just behind him on a a headstone is inscribed the verdict – “Country Music R.I.P.” Dale has every reason for writing an obituary, from the Grand ‘ol Oprey’s shafting of older members, big box retailers strangling of music distribution, radio’s rigid top seller play list and the biggest star in country coming from a dismal reality show you’d think death might be the best thing to happen to the genre.

Ten songs in three days. That’s how long it took Watson to write and lay down the tracks in a Hendersonville, TN. cabin formerly owned by Johnny Cash (currently owned by Johnny Knoxville.) Dale has said in interviews says at first he was adamant about not writing or recording anything remotely reminiscent of Johnny Cash but the specter of Cash, technique as well as themes, runs throughout the entire album.

But instead of merely a derivation “From the Cradle to the Grave” sounds like pure Dale Watson. One of the great things
about country music is that the great artists aren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. Dale displays not
only Cash, but Haggard and Waylon as well.

The Cash DNA boom-chuka-boom runs deeply to excellent affect in the opening “Justice For All,” a song about the between the law and a personal desire for vengeance. The stripped down Tennessee Three sound of Hollywood Hillbilly, a song about Johnny Knoxville, is as no frills as you’re about to find.

The Bananza-like big range sound of “Time Without You” gallops along at a fine pace. “Yellow Mama,” a dark yarn about a life gone wrong and the electric chair waiting at the end. The apocalyptic vibe reflects onward in “Tomorrow Never Comes” with it’s zen like observations of time.

Cash gets a formal call out at the end of “Runaway Train” with lyrics quoted directly from some of the Man In Black’s best known songs. “I hear that train a comin’ / hey Porter, oh Porter / yea I don’t care if I do die do die do die.” closes out the song and this all too short album.

Thanks Dale’s enduring and brave 25-year career and to this album, to paraphrase the late, Great Mark Twain, the rumors of country music’s death has been greatly exaggerated.

four and a half stars

Dale Watson Announces U.S. Tour Dates

Texas honky-tonk troubadour Dale Watson’s brand new studio album, From The Cradle To The Grave, is set for release nationwide April 24 on HYENA Records. Watson will hit the road in May to support its release with a run of East Coast and Midwest tour dates. It will mark the beginning of a year long promotional push that will find Dale performing in all corners of the United States, as well as, Europe and Australia. If you’ve never seen Dale in concert do youself, and your buddies or your gal, a favor.

On second thought don’t take your gal, you’ll never measure up after she sees Dale do his stuff.
Dale Watson’s upcoming tour dates are:
May 11 / WFPK “Live Lunch” / Louisville, KY
May 12 / Midnight Jamboree at Ernest Tubb / Nashville, TN
May 13 / Hideaway BBQ / Raleigh, NC
May 14 / Shenanigans / Richmond, VA
May 15 / The Iota Club / Arlington, VA
May 16 & 17 / The Rodeo Bar / New York, NY (Yeah!)
May 19 / Johnny D’s / Boston, MA
May 20 / The Ale House / Troy, NY
May 21 / The Sportsmen’s Tavern / Buffalo, NY
May 22 / Beachland Ballroom / Cleveland, OH
May 23 / Martyr’s / Chicago, IL
May 24 / Club Tavern / Middleton, WI
May 25 / Vnuk’s Lounge / Cudahi, WI
May 26 / Lee’s Liquor Lounge / Minneapolis, MN
May 27 / Knuckleheads / Kansas City, MO