Kinky Friedman - "Resurrection" 2019 (Echo Hill Records)
Reviewed by Greg Yost
Three essential elements of a classic country album are: songs that evoke something inside the listener; complementary musical arrangements with top-notch players; and production work that pulls all these varied components together into a single package. With Resurrection, the legendary Kinky Friedman, one of the biggest personalities in the Lonestar State has indeed created a classic country album - an 11-song collection that may very well be the best of his extraordinary 45+-year recording career.
The album has a little bit of everything. Pretty melodies and tales of love ("The Bridge That Wouldn't Burn" and "I Love You When It Rains"), a little south-of-the-border flavor ("Ai! Mariachi"), classic country ("Carryin' The Torch"), honky-tonk ("Greater Cincinnati"), an appearance by Friedman's longtime pal Willie Nelson, and even some Afropop-inspired melodies (Mandela's Blues").
"Me and Billy Swan" is a standout that finds Friedman ruminating about how modern-day Nashville is different from the time period when songwriters like Billy Joe Shaver, Hasil Adkins, Kacey Jones, and Tompall Glaser were prominent industry figures.
Listeners may want to have the tissues ready when listening to "A Dog In The Sky," a tender tribute to Friedman's beloved Mr. P, a poodle who was hit faithful companion and who was lost on his ranch. Not only does Friedman clearly miss his pooch, but he also recognizes his own aging and mortality.
"You could hardly hear/You could scarcely see/Now my little man is free/I'm an old man myself/All my dreams are on the shelf/But you just can't keep an old dog from running off to die/But there's one thing that I know/It ain't the pot of gold/No, Mr. P, it's the rainbow."
You can literally hear the hurt as his voice quivers delivering these lines in the second verse, "Now you're safe my little friend/Till we meet again." It is easily the most emotionally-charged moment of the album.
At 75, Kinky Friedman hasn't lost a step. If anything, Resurrection shows that this artist is like wine - getting better with time.