Johnny Bush Reviewed

Kashmere Gardens Mud: A Tribute to Houston's Country Soul and Texas on a Saturday Night

Johnny Bush Reviewed

Johnny Bush

Kashmere Gardens Mud: A Tribute to Houston's Country Soul (Icehouse Music)

Johnny Bush and Justin Trevino

Texas on a Saturday Night (Heart of Texas)

Johnny Bush Reviewed

As with his recent autobiography, Johnny Bush's two new albums celebrate Texas honky-tonk and his 50-year career within it. The discs also offer a nice juxtaposition. Kashmere Gardens Mud, an homage to his hometown's musical heritage, is a tightly produced affair, with Bush's voice studio-polished and guest shots from Willie Nelson, Dale Watson, and the Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra. It's an impressive career statement given the fiddle number from original Bush bandmember Frenchie Burke, a duet with his brother the Rev. Gene Shinn on "I Want a Drink of That Water," and the wonderfully rough-hewn "These Hands," which samples the scratchy, 1955 recording from Bush's uncle Jerry Jericho. Although Bush's voice lacks the subtlety to work well with Owens' aggressive arrangements on "Free Soul" or "Born to Lose," and despite the gratuitous "Pancho and Lefty" remake with Nelson, these moments are balanced by the excellent title track and Nelson's intimate duet on "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On." In contrast to Kashmere's ambition, Texas on a Saturday Night is as simple and straightforward as the album's title, with Bush and Austin's sweet-voiced Justin Trevino giving dancin' and drinkin' proper priority. Texas may, in fact, be the better tribute to Lonestar honky-tonk, as the duo shuffle through classics and originals that could soundtrack any tavern. Taken together, the albums reflect Bush's essential contributions to Texas music and even suggest a renaissance in his already storied career.

(Kashmere) ***.5

(Texas) ***

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