My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Dwight Yoakam – ‘This Time’

The release of This Time in March 1993 marked the end of a three-year sabbatical from the airwaves for Dwight Yoakam. The new album found him broadening his sound just a bit by incorporating some pop and rock elements; yet he still managed to remain true to his country roots. The result was an album that has a little something for everybody, but is a little less cohesive than his earlier efforts. Dwight wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. Five songs were collaborations with Kostas, who was a hot commodity in Nashville at the time, having written several big hits for Patty Loveless.

The album spawned five singles, which for the most part are the less traditional tracks on the album, perhaps as an acknowledgment of the changing tides at country radio. The first three singles all peaked at #2, higher than any of his efforts from 1990’s If There Was A Way. The remaining two singles reached #14 and #22. First out of the box was “Ain’t That Lonely Yet”, which was probably the most polished performance he’d released to radio up to that time. Pete Anderson’s production is fuller and more lush than it had typically been on Dwight’s earlier recordings. “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” was followed on the charts by “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” and “Fast As You”, two of Yoakam’s biggest hits and two of my least favorites among his single releases. While I don’t actively dislike either song, they are both electric guitar-driven, while the usually prominent fiddle and steel are absent.

The same can be said of the album cut “Wild Ride”, a rock-oriented number that is marred by over-processed vocals. The two singles that peaked outside the Top 10 are “Try Not To Look So Pretty” (#14), a beautiful, understated, fiddle-led ballad that is the best cut on the album, and “Pocket Of A Clown” (#22), the album’s opening track. The latter’s relatively poor chart performance may have been a result of less promotional support by the label for a fifth single, but I suspect that the somewhat jarring background vocals are to blame. I like the song, but I would like it a lot better if the “do-wah, do wha’s” were toned down or eliminated altogether.

Based on the album’s first three singles, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch for the radio listener to come to the conclusion that Yoakam was distancing himself from his traditionalist roots. But in fact, this was decidedly not the case, for among the album cuts are some fabulous, solid country gems. It’s hard to pick a favorite among them, but the two main contenders are the weepers “Home For Sale” and “Two Doors Down”. Both are stripped down, crying in your beer songs, the likes of which we rarely hear today. Good stuff. The title track is the obligatory Bakersfield tribute, on which Buck Owens’ influence can be plainly heard. The bluegrassy “Lonesome Roads” brings the album to a satisfying close.

This Time peaked at #4 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and sold more than three million copies in the US, making it the best selling album of his career. It was also his last multi-platinum release. Overall, I don’t like it as much as his previous efforts. While he knocks it out of the park on several occasions, notably on most of the album cuts, there a few tracks like “Wild Ride” and “Fast As You” that prevent it from being a thoroughly excellent album from start to finish. It’s head and shoulders over what most other artists were releasing then — and certainly now — but judged against the high standards of Dwight’s earlier work, this one falls a little bit short.

Grade: B

This Time
is easily obtained from vendors such as Amazon and iTunes.

3 responses to “Album Review: Dwight Yoakam – ‘This Time’

  1. J.R. Journey January 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    ‘Ain’t That Lonely Yet’ is my favorite Yoakam single. I also quite like ‘Two Doors Down’ and ‘A Thousand Miles From Nowhere’.

    I agree with you about the backing vocals on ‘Pocket Of A Clown’. I’ve never been big on overly-loud harmonies anyway. I think they take away from the lead performance more often than not. It’s such an interesting lyric, I always wished ‘Pocket’ was included on his acoustic album to hear how it sounds stipped down.

    Also, while it’s not terribly original, this album cover has always jumped out at me. I like it a lot.

  2. Occasional Hope January 14, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I love ‘Try Not To Look So Pretty’; it’s one of my favourite Dwight Yoakam songs.

  3. Leeann Ward January 17, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I remember hating “Try not to Look so Pretty” back when I disliked Dwight’s music. I like it now though. Ditto to “Pocket of a Clown.” Raul Malo does a good version of that song. Even when I didn’t appreciate him, however, I liked “Fast as You” and “Ain’t That Lonely Yet.” I like this album quite a bit.

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