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Ed Burleson

The Cold Hard Truth – 2004 (Palo Duro)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Ed Burleson

Five years after the release of *My Perfect World," Ed Burleson is back with another album of meat-and-potatoes honky tonk. Like his last, that means a mix ofhard shuffles ("If You Wanna Go (Just Go)" and "Can't Help Myself"), steel- and fiddle-laden ballads ("Loneliness") and mid-tempo numbers ("The Can") and a nod to country music royalty ("All Bucked Up," which plays off the obvious expletive in paying tribute to Buck Owens and his Buckaroos).

This time, though, there are some added wrinkles. The title track, for example, is unalloyed bluegrass and shows Burleson's facility in adapting his nasal twang to that style of singing. (The song is one of Burleson's own, not the song George Jones recently made famous; surprisingly, another song included here,"Ramble On," is also Burleson's, and not the Led Zeppelin tune. "Dead Skunk," however, is indeed the Loudin Wainwright song, and Burleson gives it a niceroadhouse reading.) Several tunes also throw acoustic elements into the mix without losing the overall honky tonk feel: the western-swinging "Sneakin' Suspicion" trades off Dobro instead of steel with fiddle, and the waltz-tempo "Tell Me Why" prominently features mandolin.

In short, a honky tonk reprise with a few new twists, which adds up to a welcome return from Burleson.