Dale Watson – From The Cradle To The Grave
After years of tilting at windmills, Dale Watson has rechristened his brand of country as “Ameripolitan” — but it’s not a musical change, just a doubling-down on the directness, intimacy, fiddle, steel, guitar and shuffle beats for which he’s known. Watson’s short-lived relocation to Baltimore and his hungry return to Austin provided a timely hiatus that revitalized his creativity amid the mountain air of a Tennessee cabin once owned by Johnny Cash (where this album was recorded).
The elements of Cash are everywhere, from the brass and click-clack rhythm of the opener to the lyrical fragments of “Folsom Prison” and “Hey Porter” in the closer’s fade. Watson follows the footsteps of Cash and Haggard in exploring human balances, from the dichotomy of vengeance and forgiveness and regret transforming into antipathy, to the substance of the here and the hereafter.
Watson’s loss of his fiancee (essayed on 2001’s Every Song I Write Is For You) is reprised in “Time Without You”, and the pain of more ordinary heartbreak is rendered in aching baritone, fiddle and steel for the superb “It’s Not Over Now”. At turns philosophical, playful, fatalistic and scarred, Watson is as country as country can be, no matter what he’s calling his music now.