Pin It

Record Review 

Expansive and expensive, multi-disc sets are usually released when an artists have died or passed their prime. Although last year's Reprise Please Baby: The Warner Bros. Years box was a nifty retrospective of Dwight Yoakam's tenure on the titular record label, the new Population: Me shows this honky-tonk man is far from rolling down his last lost highway.

On Yoakam's debut indie release, the Kentucky-born, Nashville refugee's sound is as refreshing and nearly as revelatory as on his first album, 15 years ago. Yoakam combines his freewheeling influences -- California country/rock predecessors the Eagles and Byrds -- with a more traditional Bakersfield twang. The spirited, yet surprisingly commercial, country that results flaunts its roots while expanding on them.

The title track displays a Hank Williams sway, using banjo and dobro to add heartbroken bluegrass twang, then throwing in a muted trumpet to infuse big-band sass. "If Teardrops Were Diamonds" meshes his high-lonesome approach and duet partner Willie Nelson's Texas country & western inflection.

With dozens of top charting singles, Yoakam's defection to independence seems an admission that, as he nudges 50, his brand of genre-pushing, roots-respecting country is better served without corporate suits fishing for a hit. Not content to exploit his hip-swiveling, torn jean image, he also refuses to compromise his musical credibility.

Hopefully, this gamble will pay off, since Population: Me is one of Yoakam's best -- and at barely one half-hour, one of his shortest -- albums. If the results continue to be this impressive, look for a second box set in 14 years.

Dwight Yoakam plays Cowboys Dance Hall Fri., Sept. 26. $20-$40.

  • Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Album Reviews

More by Hal Horowitz


Search Events

Recent Comments

  • Re: 9 shows to hit up this weekend — Sept. 12-14

    • Also the Black Madonna - a resident and talent buyer for Chicago's Smart Bar -…

    • on September 12, 2014
  • Re: Win tickets to ONE Musicfest

    • Awww man no more contests for tickets?

    • on September 12, 2014
  • Re: One MusicFest goes big

    • Sounds like he's going to eventually make the "black" Bonnaroo soon enough. Just keep the…

    • on September 10, 2014
  • Re: Meltasia Recap: Day Two

    • It's very easy to insult people's work anonymously. Not to mention, respectable. May I ask…

    • on September 10, 2014
  • Re: Win tickets to ONE Musicfest

    • That is correct! Please send your name and contact info to and we'll get…

    • on September 8, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation