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Don Walser

Down at the Sky-Vue Drive-In – 1998 (Sire/Watermelon)

Reviewed by Marc Greilsamer

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CDs by Don Walser

Having lived in Texas for all of his 64 years, Don Walser has had plenty of time to absorb the styles of his native state's country music. On these 12 cuts, Walser lends his stately and emotive vocals to cowboy songs, honky-tonk, Western swing, and Tejano.

Irving Berlin's "Marie" becomes a lively Western-swing romp backed by twin-guitar passages and rollicking piano, while Walser plucks "Cherokee Maiden" from the Bob Wills book. His dynamic yodeling is displayed on "The Devil's Great Grandson," a cowboy song from the Sons of the Pioneers, and on Jimmie Rodgers' "In My Dear Old Southern Home." Like the original "Blue Yodeler," Walser's yodels convey great jubilation. The delicate original "Ramon" nods in a Tejano direction. Walser's melodious voice slides, bends, and moans expressively on aching ballads such as "Fool Such as I" and the Louvin Brothers' "Are You Teasing Me?" which offers Mandy Barnett's harmony. The Kronos Quartet, noted kings of country, offer eerie strings against pedal-steel strains on "Rose Marie" while Walser, unfazed, sings with relish.