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Don Walser

I'll Hold You in My Heart – 2000 (Valley Entertainment)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Don Walser

Texas legend Don Walser was recently honored by the NEA with the National Heritage Award. His latest release delivers more evidence why. Unfortunately, Walser does not get similar respect from the country music industry. In the closing track "Country Gold" Walser sings of the current state of country, lamenting the perception that any one over 35 has a difficult time getting heard. In his liner notes Walser takes umbrage at being labled "alternative," asking "where do they get off?" In "Buck and Merle" Walser takes a more humorous look at Nashville these days. Inspired by a cartoon Walser had seen depicting a hitch hiker at the Nashville City Limits holding a "California or Bust" sign, the song tells the story of a singer who longs to go to Bakersfield where he feels his traditional country approach will be understood.

Other Walser originals include the uptempo "Rockabilly Rage" and the classic cheating song "If You Don't Want To See Me Go (Turn And Look The Other Way)." The title track first gained attention with Walser's critically acclaimed performance in the film "Hi-Lo Country." Other impressive covers include Merle Haggard's "Hungry Eyes" and Gary Stewart's "Sweet Thang and Cisco." Walser is supported by his Pure Texas Band - Scott Walls on steel guitar, Howard Kalish (who wrote the opening track "Yodeling the Blues") on fiddle, Skinny Don Kealing on bass, Floyd Domono on piano and drummer Philip Farjardo.

Though Don Walser may be somewhat disillusioned with the current country scene, fans of traditional country music will appreciate his latest.