Workbench Songs (Dualtone)
Guy Clark dominates the discussion with his opinion on Townes Van Zandt whenever it comes to talking about who is the ne plus ultra Texas songwriter. He has a point, of course, but if Townes is No. 1, Clark is No. 1A. Workbench Songs goes a mighty long way to proving that true. It's not just another collection of his finely crafted songs, his first for a new label. It's one of the best albums of his career. What's continually amazing about Clark is his ability to capture a sweeping range of emotions and everyday occurrences in song, from joy and pain to roadhouse rambunctious and Mexicans visiting Graceland, with exquisite simplicity and captivating lucidity. Here his co-writers are the best of their ilk, Rodney Crowell, Gary Nicholson, Darrell Scott, Lee Roy Parnell, and longtime collaborator Verlon Thompson, but there's also a chilling version of Van Zandt's "No Lonesome Tune," perhaps to demonstrate his point. Songs like Celtic flavored set opener, "Walkin' Man," the comically breezy "Tornado Time in Texas," and the universally recognizable scene set in "Out in the Parkin' Lot" stand out on a collection that may be from the workbench but is nowhere near workmanlike. (Saturday, 5:45pm, Washington Mutual stage)
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