Brooks and Dunn’s third album was released in September 1994. Produced like the first two by Don Cook and Scott Hendricks. In theory, Kix and Ronnie had equal billing, each singing lead on five songs, but Ronnie’s lead vocals were showcased on four of the five singles. This may have been the right decision commercially, as all five reached the top ten, with three of them topping the chart.
Leadoff single, ‘She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind’, which was both written and sung by Ronnie, deservedly went to #1, a forceful ballad about a woman who’s “been cheated one too many times” and is out to see what else might be out here. On the album it leads into the similarly themed story song ‘Silver And Gold’, the only outside song on the set. It was written by Michael Lunn and Michael Noble and is sung by Kix, offering another picture of an unhappily married woman who leaves nothing behind but her jewelry, symbols which have “lost their shine”. It’s just as good a song as ‘She’s Not The Cheatin’ Kind’, but Kix’s vocal is not as good as Ronnie’s.
‘I’ll Never Forgive My Heart’ is my personal favorite of the singles from this album, but it was the least successful, reaching only #6 on Billboard. It is one of the most traditional country sounding of their recordings, with some lovely steel and fiddle, an excellent, emotion-filled vocal from Ronnie, and a well-written slightly melancholy lyric about a breaking heart courtesy of Ronnie, his wife Janine, and Dean Dillon, with many of the hallmarks of a Dillon song in the structure and phrasing.
‘Little Miss Honky Tonk’, the album’s opening track, restored the duo to the top of the chart, and is a lively Ronnie Dunn rocker with rather generic lyrics, which was probably more what radio expected from the duo. ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone’ followed it to #1, and has the distinction of being the only one of the duo’s #1 singles to boast a lead vocal from Kix. Written by Kix, Ronnie, and Don Cook, it is a relatively subdued song about a marriage about to break up, with a defeated feeling, which actually suits Kix’s pained vocals. While he is not as exceptional a singer as his partner, he isn’t bad on the right material, like this song, where Kix sounds as though he’s not really fooling himself by the words of the title.
Written by the same trio but featuring Ronnie’s vocals, the album’s final single, the #5 hit ‘Whiskey Under The Bridge’ is a decent (and very well-sung) mid-tempo song about a guy who has gotten over his heartache.
The best tracks on the album are two of those not selected as singles. The charming western swing ‘If That’s The Way You Want It’, another Brooks/Dunn/Cook composition with Ronnie on lead vocals, may be my favorite track, with its easy-going offer of love whenever the object of his affections is ready. It would have been perfect for George Strait. Almost as good is the sweet story of ‘A Few Good Rides Away’, sung sensitively by Kix and which he wrote with Chick Rains. It tells the story of a truckstop waitress in a poor area, in love with a cowboy and working to fulfil their dream of settling down on a farm, supported by their neighbors, with a pretty tune:
They got a hundred acre dream
That’s gettin’ closer every day
Just a few more plates of ham and eggs
And a few good rides away
Hard times hit West Texas
Damn near everything’s for sale
But there’s some things we hold sacred
When everything else fails
When we’re down to nothing
Out here everybody shares
But most of us have lost our dreams
So we bought into theirs
I’ve seen her walk a hundred miles
Up and down this floor
But never seen her fail to smile
When he limps through the door
So when you’re done you leave a tip
And make it nice and flat
And feel lucky you can own a piece
Of something like that
Kix’s more limited vocals feel right for the understated nature of the song, as he plays the part of a traveler being told the story by a fellow-customer, but it’s a shame it has remained buried as an album track.
A couple of Kix’s other tracks are little more than generic filler, the rocking honky tonkers ‘My Kind Of Crazy’ written with Don Cook and Bill LaBounty, and ‘She’s The Kind Of Trouble’, which he wrote solo. He takes lead vocals on both.
Although it’s worth checking out if you like Brooks & Dunn, Waitin’ On Sundown is not quite as strong an album as the previous two, and although it was their first #1 album, it didn’t sell quite as well over time, reaching triple platinum status compared to the 5 and 6 times platinum of its predecessors. Brooks & Dunn undertook their first headlining tour in support of the album, and the success of the tour, the album and its singles kept them winning the CMA and ACM Duo of the Year awards, and in 1995 they were named the ACM’s Entertainer of the Year.
Waitin’ On Sundown is still in print and available inexpensively from Amazon in CD or mp3 download format. You can also buy it digitally from iTunes.