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dwightyoakamacoustic (Acoustic Version)

Dwight Yoakam

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Album Review

At first glance, dwightyoakamacoustic.net might look like a simple re-recorded greatest-hits album that's pleasant but unnecessary. However, the spontaneity and depth of these performances should give any Yoakam fan pause before dismissing it out of hand. Other than the fact that it has no discernible connection to the Internet, the album is exactly what the title promises: aside from one electric-guitar overdub, it's nothing but Yoakam and an acoustic guitar the whole way through. This ultra-stripped-down setting gives Yoakam a chance to establish an intimacy of performance that relies simply on the expressiveness of his voice and his ability to fill up space with compelling guitar work. To a certain extent, Yoakam could be handicapped by the familiarity of most of these songs, but revisiting one's back catalog is certainly not without precedent; outlaw country's biggest stars frequently re-recorded old favorites to reflect their changing sounds. Besides, he's generally successful at reinventing this selection of hits and top-notch album tracks for the album's solo format. Without much to concentrate on other than emotive power in Yoakam's voice, the heartbreaking ballads are that much more affecting, culminating in the a cappella, album-closing rendition of the once uptempo "Guitars, Cadillacs." The approach also helps evoke the wide-open spaces of songs like "Bury Me" and "A Thousand Miles From Nowhere." Not everything here is revelatory — in the end, some songs are merely pleasant — but overall, dwightyoakamacoustic.net is a left-field success, a testament to the richness of Yoakam's back catalog and his skill as an interpreter.

Biography

Born: 23 October 1956 in Pikeville, KY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

With his stripped-down approach to traditional honky tonk and Bakersfield country, Dwight Yoakam helped return country music to its roots in the late '80s. Like his idols Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams, Yoakam never played by Nashville's rules; consequently, he never dominated the charts like his contemporary Randy Travis. Then again, Travis never played around with the sound and style of country music like Yoakam. On each of his records, he twists around the form enough to make it...
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