Jason Allen Reviewed

Jason Allen Reviewed

Jason Allen

Wouldn't It Be Nice (D Records)

Forget that the title of Jason Allen's new album is a Beach Boys song. The East Texas native was "born in a john boat with a cane pole in his hand," and has been burning up the honky-tonks and dance halls across Texas ever since. Allen learned his lessons well, judging from sophomore effort Wouldn't It Be Nice, matching vintage originals with boot-scooting classics from Jim Lauderdale ("Everything but the Words"), Clay Blaker ("Make Up Your Mind"), and perennially overlooked Harlan Howard ("Your Heart Turned Left (& I Was on the Right)"). Allen's own compositions two-step between chart-climbers like "Must Have Been Meant to Be" and the Marty Robbins-style Western balladry found on "Devil's Destiny." Allen does more than simply tip his cowboy hat to traditional country – he puts in the right players, calling out to guitarists Randy Corner and Redd Volkaert on the irresistible "Chicken Pluckin'." Like all good country boys, Allen writes and sings about his childhood ("John Boat Blues") as well as where his heart leads him ("My Favorite Song"). That might not be the hippest territory out there, but he isn't looking to blaze new trails. Jason Allen's happy enough making sure the old ones are still wide open and well-traveled.

***

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    Jason Allen honky-tonks to the head of the class

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