When it comes to hard-drinking, hard-hurting country music, the kind that rips your heart out and then crushes it beneath eighteen Peterbilt wheels, Dale Watson is the hard-shell country king. Behind his talent — he sings with a smooth, Waylon-esque baritone and plays the Telecaster with Haggard-like precision — a certain X factor distinguishes him from his honky-tonk contemporaries. He didn't have to suffer for his art, but he has. After his fiancée died in a car crash, Watson attempted suicide and contemplated retirement. Despite his troubles, he's continued to release some of the strongest, most varied records in the traditional-country field. His songs can lay you low, but the swing of his veteran band always gets you back on your feet.
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