Country With a Kick (and a Sense of Humor)

West Texas Wine (Dir)
Dave Insley

By Kevin Gibson

Country crooner Dave Insley has a familiarity that may reside in his voice, which sounds a bit like fellow singer Willie Nelson (a flattering comparison to be sure), but he nevertheless has his own way of doing things.

Insley's songs have a spark, a stomping energy that makes them instantly enjoyable. This is true Americana, with sprinkles of rock and a lot of traditional country twang infused with stories of heartbreak, home and drinking too damn much.

Insley's lyrical voice is also playful enough to add an extra quality not always present in this kind of music - the comparison that leaps to mind is Junior Brown. This is particularly evident on "Come See What's Left of Your Man," which is about a guy struggling with a drinking problem, from troubles at work to having "$200 worth of the shakes" the day after a particularly heavy drinking night.

"Drinkin' For Two" is another instant classic. The narrator is sitting at his favorite bar, buying two drinks at a time in hopes his lost love will wander in and take her place beside him. Naturally, she shows up with a date (it's a country song, after all), setting up the signature line, "You're not alone, I should have known/You found somebody new/And it looks like I'll be drinkin' for two."

Meanwhile, "Waitin' Where She Hides" is a subtly delivered story about a stalker and "Everything's Broken Again" is a moaning country ballad about everything going wrong, from a record player that busted when he played Dave Dudley to a washer and dryer that "haven't spoken in years." "Everything's broken except for my heart/And somehow that makes it OK." Gold. He then closes the album with an admirable, extended rendition of Conway Twitty's "Don't Take It Away."

These songs are also deftly arranged and performed by Insley's band the Careless Smokers, with plenty going on - from pedal steel to piano as the songs demand - while still giving Insley plenty of space in which to tell his stories. Consider this an up-and-comer in the "real" country market (we're not talking modern radio schlock here) and someone you should check out if original country is your thang.

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