Had this CD been released a year ago, the Wagoneers would have been a footnote in the annals of local alt.country. A handful of reunion gigs beginning with South by Southwest 2011 now stamps the late-1980s Austin quartet's indelible strum-and-twang as essential indeed. Digitizing for the first time the band's only releases, A&M's Stout & High (1988) and Good Fortune (1989), plus a trio of country gospel songs from an unreleased project, The Essential Wagoneers is a fresh listen to classic Texas country from four veteran musicians finding new life in their old band. Monte Warden, Craig Pettigrew, Tom Lewis, and Brent Wilson maintained distinguished careers once the band broke up in 1990 – Warden penned hits for George Strait among others – but the Wagoneers' initial run continues to distinguish itself with timeless themes that lean toward historical Western folk. "Stout and High" evokes the fall of the Alamo, while a soldier watches "Atlanta" as it burns during the Civil War. Unpretentious calls to the dance floor such as the boot-scooting "Everybody Calls My Baby Honey" and belly-rubbers like "Lie and Say You Love Me" with Brent Wilson on vocals brim with sincerity and ear-tag them as 100% Texan. If the Wagoneers were once the right band at the wrong time, in 2011, they're the right band at the right here and now. (The Wagoneers twang & bang in-store at Waterloo Records, Tuesday, May 10, 5pm.)
Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.