Dwight Yoakam has had an incredible career on his own terms. He helped bring back the honky-tonk sound to country in the mid-80s, while mixing it with rockabilly. He and his guitarist-producer Pete Anderson created some of the best albums of the era (such as If There Was a Way and This Time) while managing to enjoy commercial success. The two parted ways in 2002 but Yoakam has continued making the music he wants to make to great critical acclaim.
Second Hand Heart, his follow-up to 2012’s 3 Pears, is vintage Yoakam. He produced the album himself (with Chris Lord-Alge co-producing 3 of the 10 tracks). There are only 2 songs Yoakam didn’t write- “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow” (which gets a rocking arrangement here) and V’s of Birds which closes the album.
Much of this album sounds like it could’ve been from one of Yoakam early releases. However, most of it has a “live” feel to it. Dwight’s voice sounds as good as it ever has. No matter what he sings, his is an unmistakably country voice.
My favorite thing about Yoakam is how he can do hardcore traditional country (exemplified here by “Dreams of Clay” and “Off Your Mind”) and rock out as well as anyone (“Liar” and “The Big Time”) The band is equal to the task and you can tell they are enjoying themselves. It should fun to see them performing these songs live.
At 58, Dwight Yoakam is not going quietly. Even though he is back on Warner Bros’ Reprise label where he started nearly 30 years ago, the country climate is such that he will no longer be played on top 40 country stations. That’s radio’s problem, if they would rather promote new stars like Thomas Rhett and Cole Swindell. Dwight will just keep doing his thing and doing it quite well.
Dwight Yoakam performs at Seneca Allegany Casino on June 6.