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Gene Watson

From The Heart – 2001 (RMG)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Gene Watson

Gene Watson is sort of a litmus test of country fandom. To younger or casual fans, he is - at most - an old guy who used to have some hit records. Longtime hard-core country fans, however, revere Watson as one of the genre's truly golden voices, perhaps the best of Lefty Frizzell's many disciples. The last of Watson's 21 Top 10 hits came more than 12 years ago, and some of his many albums since then have been bogged down in an over-abundance of mediocre ballads.

Here, Watson has a collection of songs that is worthy of his still-formidable vocal talents. The midtempo "Rose In The Sand," the ballad "When You're Not Looking Back," and the uptempo "This Circus That You Call A Rodeo" all sound like vintage Watson hits. He tackles a pair of classics in "Take Me As I Am Or Let Me Go" and "I Never Go Around Mirrors," and for comedy relief there's "No Trash In My Trailer." There are no real duds, and the tempos are nicely balanced. Watson's vintage albums are long out of print, but his newest does a good job of replicating the glory days.