Is there any singer better suited to record an album of Buck Owens covers than Dwight Yoakam? Yoakam first came onto the country scene in the 1980s as the new face and voice of Bakersfield country, a subgenre Owens and Merle Haggard had put on the map. Yoakam not only sang the praises of Owens, he sang with the West Coast legend, and their duet on a cover of Owens' "Streets of Bakersfield" reached number one on the country charts in 1988, despite Yoakam's refusal to play by the rules of the Nashville-based industry…….
The man who brought the Bakersfield sound back to the country charts, Dwight Yoakam, was on the road supporting his third album (and one of his best), 1988's Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room, when he and his band made a stop in Austin, TX, to appear on one of television's best showcases for quality roots music, PBS' Austin City Limits. Yoakam was at once a staunch traditionalist and a nervy Young Turk when he played his ACL gig, and both sides shine through in the performance, which has been issued on compact disc as Live from Austin, TX…….
When Dwight Yoakam burst onto the charts with his first album in 1986, he was the young honky tonk firebrand who set out to remind Nashville of its noble past and celebrate the accomplishments of Bakersfield heroes such as Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. The irony is that nearly 20 years later, Yoakam is in pretty much the same boat as the artists he championed in the 1980s – he's a respected veteran of the country scene who still has a loyal audience but lost the interest of the major labels and isn't drawing the attention he used to get. But if any of this troubles him, you'd never guess to listen to 2005's Blame the Vain, which is his sharpest and liveliest set in some time……
Dwight Yoakam returns on a new label with his first album proper in three years – the soundtrack to his directorial film debut, South of Heaven, West of Hell is just that, not an album of songs. And while one might wonder if Population Me is more of the same brand of Bakersfield-styled honky tonk blues from Yoakam and be right, there are two arguments as to why it's a necessary purchase. First and foremost, the quality of Yoakam's material is the most consistent in country music since the outlaws of the mid-'70s. Arguably, Yoakam has never released a shoddy album, and this one is no exception. Most importantly are the surprises, of which there are plenty…….
An international-only compilation, La Croix d'Amour is worth searching out for its rarities: two songs that appeared on other collections (Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" and the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'") and four new tracks, among them covers of the Beatles' "Things We Said Today" and Them's "Here Comes the Night."