This Time (Reprise)
Dwight Yoakam

By Bob Bahr

He moved to Los Angeles to break into the business, shunning the Nashville bureaucracy. His first album got rave reviews, with his distinct vocals punctuating a new, rock-tinged brand of country.

(He dated Sharon Stone. He stopped dating Sharon Stone.) Country became huge, thanks to crossover artists such as Garth Brooks. Travis Tritt showed that the public was more than ready for rockin' country.

So is it contrariness that made Dwight Yoakam put out This Time, the safest, most boring, country-est album of his career? That question is more interesting than anything found on this thankfully brief (42 minute) recording from Yoakam. With all due respect to the musicians on this album, who occasionally fought off sleep long enough to deliver a sparkling solo or fill, This Time is one of the least innovative albums put out this year. It plays like a tribute album to country music's past.

The sound of an organ running through many of the cuts on This Time offers a bit of interest and some nice lap steel and dobro work catch the ear now and then. But the bulk of this album is predictable, but rarely in a comforting way. It's more like you can predict that the TV screen will feature snow and static at 4 a.m.

Lyrically, Yoakam treads familiar ground, hitting the odd cliche while slogging through decidedly un-clever turn-of-phrases, the sentiments expressed echoing the millions of country songs already out there. "Home for Sale," however, is a pleasant variation on the "this place is empty without you" theme and "Ain't That Lonely Yet" sports a nice, kiss-off attitude. "Two Doors Down," while not exactly original, has a sad poignancy about it.

Rock rears its rebel head for "Wild Ride," a tale of sex and danger and dangerous sex. It's a token rocker amid '50s style rockabilly cuts and traditional country.

Yoakam seems to be determinedly looking backwards. That's his prerogative. His fans can get over his lack of adventure, but it' s not right for him to ask them to overlook his formulaic, digital-country material. This Time is forgettable and should be quickly forgotten.

introspection, musical diversity and Peter Searcy