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Dusty Drake - Dusty Drake
Dusty Drake
 - Dusty Drake
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Reviewed by Matt Bjorke

From Hank Williams to the Chet Atkins produced "Countrypolitan" sound to Merle Haggard to Urban Country to George Strait to Shania Twain and now to the new crop of traditionalists, country music has always had cyclical trends. After about 6 or 7 years of having a heavy dose of pop influences, country music is slowly turning back the clock. Dusty Drake is one of those new "traditionalists" in the sense that he has a rangy baritone voice, a la Ronnie Milsap, mixed in with songs that have heavy doses of fiddles and crying steel guitars.

After arriving in Nashville, Pennsylvania native Dusty Drake quickly secured a songwriting deal and landed cuts on records released by Joe Diffie, Ricochet, Karen Staley and Mark Chesnutt. From there Dusty sang demos and appeared on Neal McCoy's "Be Good At It" record while most recently singing "Heaven Can't Be Found" on the Hank Williams, Jr. tribute CD The Songs of Hank Williams Jr.: A Bocephus Celebration. Now signed to Warner Brothers Records, Dusty Drake is releasing his self-titled debut album.

While songs like "Not Bad For A Good Ole Boy" have been written before, Dusty Drake sings this song so convincingly that I have no doubts that the song will do well at radio. The song is about a farmer's son who gets a job, wife, house and kids and is happy with his life to the point that he's living the "American dream."

"Smaller Pieces" is a traditional ballad about a guy who wants to have a second try at an old relationship. In this song he says that she may have hurt him before but "The worst she can do is break my heart into smaller pieces." The song features a guitar solo but it's a steel guitar not an acoustic or electric guitar.

The lead single from the record is the emotional "One Last Time." The song starts as a soft piano and vocal ballad and builds to a climax by the last verse. This song is sure to bring a tear to eyes of many people with lyrics about a guy who calls his wife as a life-altering event happens. This song is what country music is about, the good and bad aspects of life.

"Goin' On Eighteen" is a song that everyone's lived. The lyrics talk about how when we're young, we want to be grown up and how as we get older, we want to be going on eighteen again: "They say act your age don't break no mold, be young when your young and old when your old, they say I'm in the prime of my life, hell if I know what that means, in the back of my mind I'm still goin' on eighteen."

"The Hard Way" begins with an Irish-styled (Celtic) intro with a flute and fiddle then breaks into an excellent groove with the same flute and fiddle accompanied by a tasty bass line and acoustic guitar. The song tells a story about a guy who does everything in his life "the hard way," including falling in love with an elusive girl: "I walk the wire, above the fire, my one desire is to get to you, I fall in love the hard way."

Coupled with the previous ballads "Smaller Pieces" and "One Last Time," "I Wish" proves that Dusty Drake is a great ballad singer. The lyrics tell a story through the eyes of two children at a little league baseball game, one who is on the losing team and one who sits outside the lines in a wheelchair. It's a song that shows emotions that children feel. The melody of the song is the kind like that of great ballads by George Jones and Conway Twitty.

Dusty Drake has it all, a cool name, a great voice, and the ability to not only write a good song but pick 'em as well. He may have written six of the songs here but he also picked five others including "One Last Time." The production by Paul Worley, Clark Schleicher, and Billy Crain, shows that Dusty knows how to select a team to make a winning collection of songs. Dusty Drake joins Blake Shelton, Joe Nichols, Jeff Bates and Darryl Worley as just five of the "new breed" of country stars who lean towards the traditional side of country music. With more albums like Dusty Drake and songs like "One Last Time," Dusty may just move to the "head of the class" and become a star.

Song List:

  1. Too Wet To Plow
  2. Not Bad for A Good Ole Boy
  3. Smaller Pieces
  4. One Last Time
  5. Going On Eighteen
  6. The Hard Way
  7. Just Can't Take A Train
  8. I Wish
  9. And Then
  10. Ain't Nobody's Business
  11. Radio

Album cover, used with permission of Warner Brothers Nashville.

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