Dwight Yoakam

Too old-school for alt-country hipsters, too off-kilter for staunch traditionalists, Dwight Yoakam has always been a man in search of a niche. Blame the Vain will piss off both sides of the audience, but it’s one of Yoakam’s sprightliest in years. By hiring a new band and taking the production reins from longtime collaborator Pete Anderson, Yoakam catches fire, no small feat for an artist who’s been putting out records for 20 years. Rowdy barnburners such as “Intentional Heartache” and the Mexicali-flavored “I’ll Pretend” are Yoakam at his honky-tonk best, and a handful of low-key numbers show off his increasingly rich vocal ability. But just when you think that the Kentucky native has made a straightforward country album, he flips Nashville the bird, introducing “She’ll Remember” with a faux British accent and a wall of whooshing synthesizers. Those gleeful seconds when Yoakam embraces his inner weirdo are the best moments on Vain — tones of the skinny cowboy sounding completely at home.

Categories: Music