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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

*** DWIGHT YOAKAM, "Tomorrow's Sounds Today," Reprise Nashville

October 29, 2000|RANDY LEWIS

Country's favorite contemporary maverick displays his musical savvy and strategic craftiness all over his latest album (in stores Tuesday). Consider the title: It carries the air of whimsy but may actually be a subtly subversive prediction--or just a prayer--that this album's stone traditional approach will shine once again over a pop-colored country landscape.

While not sacrificing his identity as a singer or songwriter, Yoakam manages to call up the ghosts of several heroes, country and rock.

"Dreams of Clay" sounds like Buddy Holly 2000, "For Love's Sake" mines the stripped-down Johnny Cash-Tennessee Two lope, "Alright, I'm Wrong" resuscitates Doug Sahm's pumping Tex-Mex rock, and "A Promise You Can't Keep" harks back to Hank Locklin's "Please Help Me I'm Falling."

It closes with a pair of duets with another of his idols, Buck Owens: "Alright, I'm Wrong" and the gospel-flavored, 1977 Statler Brothers hit "I Was There."

The heartache here is anything but by the numbers--the opening couplet in "Promise" summons a world of disillusionment in 16 words: "I heard you swear your love this morning / And it caught me almost wanting to believe."

That places Yoakam's music opposite the feel-good fluff revered by Nashville these days. But it points to an emotionally richer, if not superficially sunnier, tomorrow in country music.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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