In 2001, after a string of no-frills, hard-truckin' honky-tonk recordings, Watson made the kind of album country music alone permits. The year before, his fiancée Terry Herbert had died in a car accident on a Texas highway; shook to the core, Watson nearly drank and drugged himself to death before translating his sorrow, terror and denial into music. If the definition of sentimental is unearned emotion, then Every Song I Write Is for You may be the least sentimental album in history. Though the country metaphors are here -- the memory-drowning drink, the deals with the Devil -- the pathos is simply a fact. "Face the truth, you know she's gone," Watson sings. "But they don't know what's holding me/I see your face in every face I see." Watson isn't alone in exploring the hard emotional truths of country music, but few would dare tell them with such conviction and catharsis.
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