Here I Am In Dallas

Dallas Wayne

Hightone Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Shortly after my review of Big Thinkin' ran, I received a very nice e-mail from the wife of the artist, Dallas Wayne, thanking me for the review. I do wonder, though, how she kept herself from correcting me on one point in the review. You see, I called Wayne one of the most exciting new country artists I had heard in a long time... the problem is, Wayne has been slugging it out on the highways and the by-ways for some time now. Oh well... I guess she realized my heart was in the right place, even if my brain was elsewhere.

Wayne impressed me the last time around with a mixture of traditional country heartbreak and a sly sense of humor intermixed. His latest disc, Here I Am In Dallasmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , features little of the humor, almost as if Wayne is saying that he no longer needs to prove himself as a bonafide performer by using it. Granted, he's the real deal, and the songs on this disc are just as enjoyable - but I do kinda miss the way that he could put a smile on my face.

Oh, there's evidence early on that nothing's changed. "Bouncin' Beer Cans Off The Jukebox" is classic Wayne, who shows the ability to take a typical theme in country music - namely, drinkin' and cheatin' - and put a spin on it that, surprisingly, no one had thought to do yet. Likewise, "I Hit The Road (And The Road Hit Back)" takes the theme of a hard life travelling America, and puts it into a unique perspective.

But the bulk of Here I Am In Dallas is a much more subdued album - though that doesn't mean it's any less enjoyable. If anything, it shows Wayne moving a little closer to mainstream country in style, with tracks such as "I'm Gonna Break Some Promises Tonight," "Happy Hour" and "Shadows Of My Mind" as prime examples. Where Big Thinkin' was an album filled with collaborations between Wayne and Robbie Fulks, Here I Am In Dallas features Wayne coming into his own as a songwriter, with solo credits on five of the 12 tracks. (It's interesting, though, that he chooses to cover other artists' songs on this disc, something he didn't do on Big Thinkin'. This is not a complaint, as the covers are well-chosen, such as "Hillbilly Jitters".)

Quite possibly the best song on the disc is one which is the most serious - "The Stuff Inside". I can't tell which side is more powerful, the verses, or the spoken word moments. Yeah, this isn't the kind of song that would get heaps of airplay, which is a damn shame, since this is the kind of track that would instantly win fans to Wayne's camp - but it's the kind of track that's both enjoyable and makes you think.

Here I Am In Dallas might not have as many light-hearted moments as I was hoping for, but this disc does allow Wayne the room to grow as both a performer and as a songwriter - and, in the big picture, that's really more important. It doesn't matter whether you're in Dallas, Detroit, or New Delhi, Here I Am In Dallas is another must-own disc from Wayne.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen 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 Hightone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.