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Check It Out

Check It Out!: August 1, 2013

Dale Watson and His Lonestars —

El Rancho Azul

(Red House Records)

When Blake Shelton made his controversial comments earlier this year basically saying traditional country music was for old farts, it’s clear that Miranda Lambert’s main squeeze won’t be inviting Dale Watson to his next cookout.

Not unlike peers Dwight Yoakam and Rosie Flores, Watson is a devotee of Bakersfield-inspired honky-tonk firmly imprinted by elder statesmen Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. And unlike the clean (read bland) pop-flavored fare currently falling off the Music Row assembly-line that’s passing for country music nowadays, these 14 songs about boozing and loving ring with considerably more authenticity.

While the alcohol intake sprinkled throughout may have you thinking about pointing the Alabama native in the direction of Alcoholics Anonymous, he wields a pretty effective pen whether he’s channeling the late George Jones on the twangy “I Drink to Remember” or paying homage to his favorite watering hole on the double-time waltz “Smokey Old Bar.”

And when he’s not drowning his sorrows and singing “I lie when I drink and I drink a lot/I only drink when I’m missing you” on the Bob Wills-style “I Lie When I Drink,” Watson is pitching woo (the boot-scooting “Give Me More Kisses”) and paying homage to Billy Joe Shaver (a rollicking “”Where Do You Want It”).

Elsewhere, he proves to be quite the romantic, using a hoedown arrangement to talk about impending nuptials (“We’re Gonna Get Married”), slowing down long enough to share a pair of songs about clicking with that special someone at a dance hall (“Quick Quick Slow Slow,” “Slow Quick Quick”). Suffice it to say, if contemporary country music credentials existed, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Shelton revoking Watson’s based on the former’s narrow definition of the genre.