Despite his omnipresent ten-gallon lid, Dwight Yoakam is no hat act. It's old news that the Kentucky-born Yoakam had to first move to Los Angeles before succeeding in Nashville, but with his stardom established he's been anything but complacent. As with 1993's strong This Time, his most recent album, Gone (Reprise), finds him brashly playing with genre hybrids. He pulls off nearly every gambit. On the opener, "Sorry You Asked?," the same mariachi horns that graced Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" blare in the background while Yoakam wryly explains why his romance has crumbled, giving reasons even as the music fades. Though the Bakersfield honky-tonk paradigm remains the framework for his thoroughly modern sound--once again tweaked by producer/guitarist Pete Anderson--there are some terrific exceptions. "Nothing" delivers a striking bit of restrained, slowly galloping blue-eyed soul while retaining Yoakam's personality. The rollicking "Baby Why Not" seamlessly incorporates Tex-Mex accordion while "One More Night" braids pedal steel and electric sitar. "Never Hold You" is the one experiment that fails, a hypercharged slab of John Mellencamp fist-pumping rock, complete with audience-engaging shouts of "Hey!" But as last year's Dwight Live showed, Yoakam is an electrifying performer. The terrific David Ball opens. Thursday, June 27, 8 PM, Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont; 559-1212 or 847-671-5100.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kip Lott.