Dale Watson: Cheatin’ Heart Attack

Dale Watson: Cheatin’ Heart Attack

Label: Hightone Records * Released: 1995. 

Dale Watson is passionate about real country music. You can hear it in every note he sings and in every note he plays.  (Even see it on the clothes he wears). There’s Merle, Lefty, Faron, Buck, Cash & Paycheck, all coming through that deep baritone voice that seduces and cajoles, thrashes and jeers, then warms and comforts you. Chock full of conviction and dripping with Elvis-esque honeyed tones, that voice has been at it since Watson was a teen. It’s in his blood. He’s been called Retro Country, Neo-traditionalist, Texas Country, Roots Country, even his own labeled ‘Ameripolitan’,  but the truth is that Dale Watson IS Country Music.  His live shows feature a set list that features songs that could be featured in “History of Country Music 101,”   saddled in between selections from a huge catalog of originals. His shows are electric. His energy skyrockets high and vibrant, swoops down low and emotional, and rises up again in high drivin’ fun.  His charismatic persona often overrides the fact that he’s a clever wordsmith as well as a superb guitar picker  Hell, he’s even got “author” and “actor” added to his credits. No matter the role he’s playing, he’s still Dale Watson. Tried and true, country blue.

Alabama born, Texas bred, California honed, Texas righteous again. Watson and Texas have weathered many storms in their love affair and the troubadour has kept local residencies in Austin despite touring here, there and everywhere.  He’s built a massive underground fan base, one honky tonk at a time. From multiple Texas awards, to the British Country Music Awards’ Best International Artist, he’s gained respect from fans, critics and peers alike. He’s  jumped multiple record labels fast and furiously, moving through them when they didn’t measure up to his expectations.

In 1995, Watson released his debut album on Hightone Records,  Cheatin’ Heart Attack. He was celebrated instantly for his traditional sound, expert vocals, and sparse arrangements that were a throwback to the days of Paycheck and Buck Owens.  Sharp steel licks and subtle guitar work accompanied Watson’s genuine delivery of the honky tonk truth that he’s preached every day since he starting performing.  Some of his best work is on this album.

The album starts off with a Bakersfieldish bang with “List of Reasons” …

I got a list of reasons, I look at every day

It’s giving me the courage to keep on walking away

When I think i’m getting weaker, I read it over and over again

I’ve got a list of reasons, why you’re never gonna win

Cheatin’ runs rampant in the clever title track as well as  “Caught.”  A strong Texas vibe shines through in  “South of Round Rock, Texas” and in “Texas Boogie” where Watson’s guitar skills are revealed in a jaunty Texas swing. “Tonite, All Day Long” is one of the best songs ever written by Watson, depicting the harsh realities of married life. Love and sex are easy, it’s the day in and day out hassles of life that kill a relationship. This one cuts, deep. One hell of a song.

Then, of course, we have  “Nashville Rash.”  An anthem for R-E-A-L Country Music that rings true now even more than it did in ’95…

Help me, Merle, I’m breaking out in a Nashville rash

It’s looking like I’m falling in the cracks

I’m too country now for country, just like Johnny Cash

Help me, Merle, I’m breaking out in a Nashville rash

Song after song, Watson proves that he’s worthy of the place he’s carved out for himself that puts him alongside Cash & Merle. He’s their son. And, he’s the father of country music legends to come. Save yourself from a pop country heart attack, get a cheatin’ one instead.  Classic? Indeed.

 Track List

 1.  List of Reasons

 2.  Caught

 3.  She Needs Her Mama

 4.  That’s The Day

 5.  Cheatin’ Heart Attack

 6.  South of Round Rock, Texas

 7.  Tonite, All Day Long

 8.  Nashville Rash

 9.  Wine, Wine, Wine

10. You Lie

11. Tell ‘Em I Ain’t Here

12. Holes In The Wall

13. Texas Boogie

14. Don’t Be Angry 

Listen for yourself :

Dale Watson: Cheatin’ Heart Attack


~ Andrea Fennel

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Andrea Fennel is native Texan who was raised outside of San Antone, and now resides in the outskirts of  Phoenix.  She’s a freelance writer for several music publications.  She plays the piano, saxophone, guitar and cello and enjoys hiking, hang gliding, and certain hippie activities.

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