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Fair & Square

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Album Review

Jimmie Dale Gilmore's debut album, Fair and Square, established him out of the box as a major talent in the Texas country music scene, but in retrospect the record seems like a rather odd representation of his talents. With longtime friend and collaborator Joe Ely in the producer's chair, Fair and Square is for the most part a solid honky tonk session, with Gilmore's gloriously wobbly tenor sounding strong and clear over a band that's not afraid to turn up the gas on numbers like "White Freight Liner Blues" and the proto-rockabilly "All Grown Up." (Actually, Gilmore and Ely seem to have been in a rocking mood when they cut this album, given the presence of enthusiastic renditions of "Trying to Get to You" and "Singing the Blues.") However, given his strength as a songwriter, it seems curious that Gilmore only wrote two of the album's ten songs, though with Butch Hancock, Townes Van Zandt, and David Halley all willing to contribute tunes, it's not as if anyone was forcing him to cut second-rate material. More significantly, the subtle undercurrents of Gilmore's best material seem to have been left by the wayside, as if a coffeehouse singer/songwriter had been thrown into a dance hall and was trying to avoid getting the hook. Fair and Square is a fun album, but it's hardly the best place to start exploring Gilmore's brand of music.


Born: 06 May 1945 in Amarillo, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

With his warm, warbling tenor voice and folksy, friendly approach to both his music and his audiences, Jimmie Dale Gilmore is an easy guy to like. His music is a rich blend of traditional country, folk, blues, and rock styles, and his lyrics reflect both his philosophical interests and his inherent down-home nature. Since moving to Austin, TX, and reviving his career in the 1980s, Gilmore has in many ways come to represent the current Austin music scene -- its rootsy mix of country, rock, and folk...
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Fair & Square, Jimmie Dale Gilmore
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