More than just a soundtrack for redneck truckers on their way down to the rodeo.
Chris White 2007
With record sales of over 30 million and more Country Music Association awards than any other act in history, durable Nashville duo Brooks & Dunn are big stars in their native U.S. Yet like all but the most stellar of their genre’s elite, they could walk down almost any high street in Britain wearing stetsons and spurs without a murmur of recognition. Like gridiron and baseball, country music remains a uniquely American phenomenon that still lacks mainstream appeal elsewhere in the world.
That’s not Brooks & Dunn’s fault however, and if you are a country fan, then you’ll lap up Cowboy Town, the eleventh album proper by Kris Brooks and Ronnie Dunn. Every intrinsic element of good, old fashioned country music is present and correct, from the twanging guitars and simple, uplifting melodies to the bittersweet vocals telling quintessentially Southern tales of God-fearing, whiskey-quaffing drifters that will go down a storm in trailer parks and diners from Texas to Tennessee.
Highlights include "Johnny Cash Junkie", an uptempo, affectionate nod to some of the greats of country’s past, and three excellent slower songs – "Cowgirls Don’t Cry", ‘The Ballad Of Jerry Jeff Walker’ and "God Must Be Busy". The latter in particular uses steel guitar and some unexpectedly thoughtful lyrics to deliver an altogether more contemporary sound, not unlike alt country favourites Richmond Fontaine. With Brooks and Dunn both in their fifties, neither is very likely to become the new Bonnie Prince Billy, but nevertheless Cowboy Town does show at times that country artists can offer more than just a soundtrack for redneck truckers on their way down to the rodeo, while at the same time sticking to a traditional, stereotypical style enough to keep their core audience happy.