Jimmie Dale Gilmore's ethereal, Willie-esque timbre has never sounded so down-to-earth as it does on Come On Back. No doubt, a major explanation for this strong vocal presence lies with the fact that the album is a tribute to the favorite tunes of Gilmore's recently deceased father -- it's probably tough to be anything but artlessly soulful during such an undertaking. But there's also the material itself. When Gilmore joined Joe Ely and Butch Hancock in 1970 as the Flatlanders, the result was arguably the first country album to make Nashville seem completely extraneous. Since then, Gilmore has been at the forefront of singer-songwriters who have reinvested ambition and relevance into country. With Come On Back, the Austin-based performer wraps his silver-foil vocals around once-commercial tunes, without a trace of the Zen-inspired poetry and philosophy he's known for. From a playful version of Ernest Tubb's "Walking the Floor Over You" to a bluesy "Peace in the Valley," Come On Back is a simple pleasure.
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