Shortly before his death, Johnny Cash was asked who he thought the best male vocalist in country music was. His response: Dwight Yoakam. Anyone wondering where Cash was coming from need only spin “Close Up the Honky Tonks”, a tantalizing preview of Yoakam’s upcoming Buck Owens tribute.
My personal favorite Dwight Yoakam album was his remake collection Under the Covers, which featured refreshing, personal takes on familiar material. If “Close Up the Honky Tonks” is any indication, the Owens tribute will follow the same formula, eschewing paint-by-numbers covers completely. Yoakam slows down this overly familiar country shuffle, bringing out the deep, depressing sadness that was always lurking beneath. His vocals, as always, are beyond reproach.
Listen: Close Up the Honky Tonks