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Jack Ingram

Livin' Or Dyin' – 1997 (Rising Tide)

Reviewed by Dallas Clemmons

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CDs by Jack Ingram

Houston native Jack Ingram has released a dandy album, especially if your old Jerry Jeff Walker albums are wearing thin. Ingram covers Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Guy Clark, and his own songs share many traits with those Texas masters.

But it's Walker who most informs the sound. Jerry Jeff even shows up to help Ingram sing "Picture On My Wall," a gloriously ragged barroom number.

And Ingram's Beat Up Ford band is reminiscent of the Gonzos: slightly torn and frayed, in the best sense. Co-producer Steve Earle has done a terrific job keeping the spirit loose, whether Ingram isrocking out with "I Can't Leave You," singing the moving ballad "Don't You Remember," or covering the honky tonk anthem, "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)."

The Texas troubadour is a most appealing figure in country music, but straightforward practitioners are becoming scarce. Here's hoping Ingram continues to uphold this somewhat disreputable tradition!