Dale Watson Reviewed

Dale Watson Reviewed

Dale Watson

Every Song I Write Is for You (Koch)

I was once acquainted with a couple who chose George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today" to accompany the first dance at their wedding -- a song about a guy whose lifelong, unrequited love dies only the day he does. Perhaps a morbid choice to launch a lifelong commitment, yet in a way perfect, because sad songs have a way of distilling love down to its raw essence where a happy song only offers its saccharine artifice. Paradoxically, a sad song is happier than any happy song could be. Austin's Dale Watson has plumbed the murky depths of loss -- the tragic death of his fiancée and his subsequent suicide attempt last year are still fresh memories -- but he's somehow managed to resurface, bringing with him this paradoxical souvenir called Every Song I Write Is for You. The strange thing is that, separated from the lyrics, these are mostly happy songs: "One More for Her" is a loungey jaunt, "Hey Chico" is beachy, dare I say, pop music, "Money Can't Buy Her Love" is upbeat Texas swing. Yet throughout, Watson's frank, unaffected lyrics (and song titles) cover the whole spectrum of grief: There's denial ("I Can't Let You Go"), bargaining ("I'd Deal With the Devil"), depression ("I See My Future"), guilt ("If I Knew Then What I Know Now"), and acceptance ("Angel in My Dreams"). Even in these ballads, however, Watson's band buoys his baritone like some heavenbound cloud; Ricky Davis' pedal swirls like empathetic angels, Earl Poole Ball and Floyd Domino's piano and strings brighten like a long-awaited sunrise. The combination of happy music and sad words may be disconcerting at first, but the former underscores the fact that Every Song I Write Is for You is ultimately a celebration of love rather than a mourning of loss.

***.5

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