Texas Outlaws

Various Artists

Compadre Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/09/2003

With the surge of MP3s and other forms of online downloading, CD sales have been taking a beating. Some say that if this trend takes its full course, there will be no such things as albums, just collections of songs, available for the user to make his or her own collection of tunes. While I remain optimistic, I have to admit that with the rise of mass online swapping of music, the format that seems likely to be the first casualty is the compilation CD.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Who needs a compilation CD when you can just download all of your favorite artists of a particular genre to your hard drive? That option has not stopped Compadre records from releasing Texas Outlaws, a solid array of roots-centered songs from some of Texas' country and alt-country scene. The collection ranges from loyal covers (Roger Creager's dead-on cover of Steve Earle's "Guitar Town") to legends like the late, great Townes Van Zandt.

Some could argue that compilations like Texas Outlaws are a quick and thrown-together attempt to cash in on a hot musical movement (alt-country). However, since artists like Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams aren't exactly burning up the charts, it's hard to doubt the sincerity of Compadre records. Texas Outlaws gives listeners the chance to hear Willie Nelson do a great duet with Lil' Black, but also gives the listener to sample lesser-known, but definitely worth your ear talent like Cory Morrow's barren "The Preacher."

Texas Outlaws does contain some throwaway tracks. Reckless Kelly does a fairly uninspired cover of "Rodeo Man" and Robert Earl Keen's "Whenever Kindness Fails" fails to register, even after repeated listens. Dale Watson's "In the Jailhouse Now" is too slick to do the original justice and John Evans' "Folsom Prison Blues" is one step up from an average karaoke version of Cash's masterpiece.

Wisely, Texas Outlaws ends on two masterful notes: Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty" and Willie Nelson's duet with Lil' Black, "Back on the Road." The creators wisely mix up the compilation, adding live recordings in addition to the studio recordings. Combine that with some loyal covers and some genuinely good originals by some of Texas' brightest stars of country and alt-country and you have a great introduction to roots music. If you're looking for the next step after Johnny Cash's American recordings and O Brother, Where Art Thou, Texas Outlaws is a good place to start.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2003 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Compadre Records, and is used for informational purposes only.