My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Dale Watson – ‘From The Cradle To The Grave’

from the cradle to the grave2007’s From The Cradle To The Grave was recorded in a Tennessee cabin once owed by Johnny Cash, and Cash’s shadow looms over the production and vocals, with one direct tribute to the Man in Black, ‘Runaway Train’.

The strongest song is the compelling western story song, ‘Justice For All’, about a man tempted to seek fierce revenge for the death of his child even though he know it is wrong:

“Revenge is mine”, said the Lord
Well the Lord’s one lucky guy…

An eye for an eye
Would leave the whole world blind
Forgiveness is the way
But I can’t forgive his crime
And if I had the chance
In truth I’d have to say
I’d gun that bastard down
With a smile upon my face

On a journey of revenge
Be sure to dig two graves

Also excellent is the wearied lost-love song ‘It’s Not Over Now’ and the Cash-like ‘Time Without You’.

As usual Watson wrote most of the songs. There is one outside contribution, the cautionary ‘You Always Get What You Always Got’, written by Gail Davies, her son Chris Scruggs, and the latter’s BR5-49 bandmate Chuck Mead. Watson channels his inner Cash again on this one, which advises against expecting different results from the same actions – very good.

‘Why Oh Why Live A Lie’ has a bright bluegrassy feel despite a challenge to a spouse who he knows doesn’t live him despite her protestations. I really enjoyed this track.

‘Yellow Mama’ is the nickname of the official Alabama electric chair, and the song of that title is a murder ballad from the point of view of the killer. The dour ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ has a very dark feeling.

The title track is unsatisfying: starting out sounding like a story song, the narrative is abandoned in favour of some half-realised philosophy.

The good humoured ‘Hollywood Hillbilly’ about a redneck turned movie star who has not forgotten his roots features a came from Watson’s friend Johnny Knoxville (who owned the Cash cabin where the record was recorded).

While not Watson’s very best, this is still a strong album with some excellent songs.

Grade: A-

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