Dancehall Dreamer

by: Pat Green

Texas singer/songwriter Pat Green is, along with Jack Ingram and Corry Morrow, influenced heavily by Robert Earl Keen, Jr. Nowhere is this more evident than on Green's self-released debut, Dancehall Dreamer. Here, as well as on Ingram's self-titled first album -- whether they want the distinction or not -- lie the branches of the 21st century's incestuous, so-called Red Dirt Scene. (The roots were laid by Keen and his own forbears.) This is Texas music, through and through. Several of the album's songs reference the Lone Star State -- "I Like Texas," "West Texas Holiday," "Southbound 35," etc -- and its framing of country music is decidedly more Western that Southern; its good-time barroom reveries and crowd-stirring anthems lend themselves more to the stage at Billy Bob's Texas than anyplace in Nashville. The finest moments here are when Green doesn't attempt to go to deep: the opener "Here We Go" has a nostalgic lyric and a cut-time country rock shuffle; the title track is a lonesome, romantic, country waltz, and the tender, near vulnerable confessions in the love song "Family Man" have a beautifully woven slate of electric and acoustic guitars. The faux-rockabilly cover of Keen's "Goin' Down in Style" adds nothing new to the original, so it's more an homage and an attempt, one suspects, to establish a lineage link. The aforementioned "I Like Texas" and "West Texas Holiday" are just too obvious as crowd-pleasers to take very seriously. Once you hear them once, there is no need to ever revisit them. This is an impressive debut despite its missteps, and reveals that the young songwriter has potential. ~ Thom Jurek

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