Dale Watson & His Lonestars

El Rancho Azul (Red House)

Phases & Stages

Dale Watson & His Lonestars

El Rancho Azul (Red House)

By some counts, El Rancho Azul notches album No. 20 for Dale Watson. Since his recording career began in 1995, that makes the man from Pasadena a veritable fountain of songs. Here he sounds as confident as ever, and while not every tune hits, the album contains some of the Austin country icon's more memorable musical moments. There's the stomping "Where Do You Want It," which was inspired by Billy Joe Shaver's memorable confrontation in a saloon parking lot outside of Waco and lays out Watson's best Waylon growl. "Give Me More Kisses," with its call-and-response chorus, counters lighthearted and swings like mad. Of the 14 songs, the word drink populates four titles, and there's even "Drink Drink Drink," no surprise from a band that spends so much time in bars. Watson continues to fight contemporary country music with a sound as honky-tonk as the Broken Spoke, and he's politically incorrect to the end with the playful "Thanks to Tequila."

***.5

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