Tuesday, March 21, 2006

You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker

Cindy Walker, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, has written or co-written dozens of classic country, cowboy, and western swing songs in her long lifetime. One of her most famous tunes, the title track to this affectionate tribute disc, was most famously a big hit for the late, great Ray Charles.

You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker finds Willie, backed by a crack band, putting his distinctive spin on 14 of Walker’s great songs. From the sprightly swing of venerable chestnuts like “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age” and “It’s All Your Fault”…from bittersweet saloon songs like “Warm Red Wine” and “Bubbles in my Beer”…from sly cowboy songs like “Dusty Skies” and “Cherokee Maiden”…from wistful lost-love songs like “Just Walking Out the Door” and the title song…Willie is relaxed and playful and completely engaged (I love Willie…I’ve been down with him for decades…but even I can’t deny when he’s off his records can have a maddening indifference to them…as if he went into the studio, dashed off the first take and then got the hell out of the studio again.)

And if Willie’s voice is a bit ragged around the edges from time to time (he can’t sustain notes the way he might have in younger days), that’s okay because it just adds a beguilingly authentic touch of raggedness to the proceedings. It’s a sweet little record indeed.

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