Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Sept. 13, 2002
Jason RobertsTexas Fiddle Man
As fiddler for multi-Grammy winners Asleep at the Wheel, Jason Roberts steps into the spotlight on a regular basis, plays his solo, and takes his bow. The six-year Wheel vet has also played with Hank Thompson, Don Walser, and Johnny Bush, and under the sound guidance of co-producer Ray Benson, releases his first solo album. Texas Fiddle Man is a warm summer breeze of an album, tickling all the right fancies and invoking all the right Lone Star sounds: a good-time honky-tonk piano, thumpin' swing bass, back-talkin' steel, and of course, a soaring fiddle. TFM also touches all the bases, a charming tip o' the Stetson to tried-and-true songwriters like Lefty Frizzell ("Bandy the Rodeo Clown"), George Jones and Ray Price ("You Done Me Wrong"), and Bob Wills ("End of the Line"). It's also something of a tribute to fellow Lampassan Johnny Gimble, whose inimitable fiddle style shaped Roberts' playing ("Fiddlin' Around," "I Needed You"); Gimble acknowledges this with an appearance on the album and as Roberts' second cousin. Roberts doesn't have a lot of vocal range, but his rich tenor more than satisfies the wink-and-smile demands of the music. He's as adept at the waltz as the two-step, and can swing like a pro, but the album showcases Roberts' proficiency on mandolin, guitar, and steel in addition. Texas Fiddle Man delivers, just like a good fiddle player should.