When Dwight announced that his new album would be a return to his rock-a-billy style, I was excited. As great as 3 Pears was, there was a style that made Yoakam who he was.
So much lately with artists who promise that their new album will be going in a “new direction” or be a “return to their roots,” it’s easy to get frustrated when these artists really just deliver something that really doesn’t sound anything different than the last album they’d put out.
The album starts off with “In Another World,” a song about moving forward beyond hurt and to a place where love will heal heartbreak in a way that will make the heartbroken feel as if she is another world. There’s a similar theme explored in “Second Hand Heart,” the title track, however that song explores a story where both individuals have been hurt and are both tentatively testing the waters of love again. Each feels that it may be better to avoid getting involved for fear of experiencing the same hurt again; however, the singer reasons that if you only keep the best memories, it will be hard to see how good they are with nothing with which to compare them.
“Dreams of Clay” is actually a carryover from Yoakam’s 2000 album Tomorrow’s Sounds Today, though this version is tempoed back to a slower version of the song. It holds its own against the original. While the original seemed to have moved beyond the hurt expressed in the song, this version feels like the hurt is still very much present.
“Off Your Mind” is another strong track where the singer addresses a former lover, nothing that if she thinks about him or wonders where he is, he’ll be right where she left him – alone and off of her mind.
Yoakam also lends his trademark sound to his version the classic “Man of Constant Sorrow.”
In my initial review of the digital single of “The Big Time,” I noted some difficulty in understanding the lyrics. That difficult is largely cleared up with the liner notes to guide the way, and it becomes much easier to understand. In the song, Yoakam notes that he’s never seen the “big time,” but that he is content with his own version of that life.
If the closing track, “V’s” of Birds” sounds like something out of the 1990s, there’s a reason: it was written back in 1993 by Anthony Crawford. Musically, it sounds like something off of Garth Brooks’ No Fences. It’s a strong choice for Yoakam; it’s something a little bit different from the rest of the album, but it still feels like it fits right in with the sequencing.
Yoakam wrote eight of the ten tracks on the album. I can’t imagine this album having been better than it came out. It was worth the wait since 3 Pears for this album and this is an easy candidate for my end-of-year Top Ten List.