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Davin James

Buck Owens Freeway – 2014 (Bullnettle)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Davin James

The latest from Texas singer/songwriter Davin James is a mix of traditional country and country rock with a touch of soul. The main influence is traditional country as in the opening track "Johnny's Music, Billy's Bible," which tells of meeting Johnny Cash backstage at a Billy Graham revival and relates how he was moved by each ("That holy rolling freight train came burning through our town").

The opening track salutes the Bakersfield sound with a reference to the stretch of highway named for Buck Owens in his birthplace of Sherman, Texas and features a hot chicken-picking guitar solo by James and an arrangement that recalls the classic "Streets of Bakersfield." James also laments the current state of country music by noting "the songs that I grew up on/You could hold them in your hand/Read the words and get the picture/Feel as if you knew the band" and "Hell, I bet they'd kick old Waylon/Off the Opry stage today."

James rocks nicely on the bluesy "Messin' With Your Pole" and "Bowl of Red," while on "Sandbar" (with Kevin Fowler) and "Chillax" (with Larry Joe Taylor), James delivers a pair of Jimmy Buffett flavored duets. One of the stronger tracks is "Once Upon a Time," a sentimental ballad, which spotlights James' soulful voice as he reflects on happier times at a favorite hangout ("Back in its heyday/They had a line around the corner/This old place was like a who's who/They just don't make 'em like they used to"). Lloyd Maines (steel guitar) and Brian Burns (co-writer of the title track who also shines on accordion) also lend helping hands.

With James' pleasant vocals and strong compositions this is an entertaining collection.