Country music is where rock 'n' roll was circa 1962 B.B. (before Beatles) and 1975-76 lots 'n' lots of photogenic hat-hunks and pop(py)-tarts playing corporate-approved approximations of the real stuff. Dale Watson, an Austin performer flying beneath the Nashville radar, puts the "tree" back in country as an insurgent devoted to hardcore honky-tonk styles defined by Buck Owens, Lefty Frizzell, and Merle Haggard. Watson isn't "alt-country" and he's not "retro." He's just fiercely, resolutely country. Scorning and rejecting dilution of the music he loves, Watson's wiry approach is as robust and potent as a shot of Jack Daniel's. Recorded in a Henderson, Tennessee, cabin once owned by Johnny Cash, Watson's latest opus, From the Cradle to the Grave (Hyena), pays homage of a sort to the Man In Black. However, Cradle is the very best sort of tribute Watson makes the Man's boom-chicka-boom credo his own, and his worldly baritone is as real as cracks in the sidewalk and that Sunday morning coming down.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.