Dwight Yoakam | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dwight Yoakam 

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At the turn of the century Dwight Yoakam ended his 15-year relationship with Warner Brothers Records; after releasing one album on Audium, 2003's Population Me, he also parted with longtime producer Pete Anderson. Given all that rejiggering I figured he'd take a few chances on his latest album, the self-produced Blame the Vain (New West), perhaps mixing up Tex-Mex, honky-tonk, and blue-eyed soul the way he did on mid-90s classics like This Time and Gone. No such luck: aside from the strange British accent he affects on the tongue-in-cheek, faux-bombastic synth intro to "She'll Remember," there's nothing here he hasn't been doing on and off throughout his career. But more of the same old Yoakam is still better than nearly every other country record I've heard this year, and with Keith Gattis taking over on lead guitar and Yoakam giving the recordings a fuller, less trebly sound, I don't miss Anderson. The material mostly alternates between Bakersfield-style honky-tonk and twangy, Presley-esque rockabilly, with crisp production and subtle hooks, and Yoakam's still conjuring the spirits of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. He's a dependable live performer, and I'm hoping he'll get wilder at this show than he does on the new disc. Wed 8/24, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212, $35 in advance, $37.50 at the door.

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