Dale Watson has been been making records for 25 years, which makes him as much of a veteran as any of the honky tonk legends who inspired him in the first place, and like many music biz lifers, Watson is a smart guy who knows how to give his fans what they want while keeping thing fresh so he doesn't get bored. Released in 2015, Call Me Insane may not sound like a major creative breakthrough (and ultimately it isn't), but there are just enough countrypolitan accents in tunes like "Forever Valentine," "Crocodile Tears," and the title track to show Watson isn't just a honky tonk man, and his way with a weeper is every bit as strong as his knack for tunes about beer drinking and good times. Watson's band -- including Danny Levin on piano, Don Pawlak on pedal steel, and Lloyd Maines joining Watson on guitar -- is in typically superb form on Call Me Insane, capturing the nuances of the intimate numbers and delivering the right amount of revved-up energy when Watson turns it up on his tribute to the Ol' Possum, "Jonesin' for Jones," and his celebration of true love, "Hot Dang.
Dale WatsonCall Me Insane(Red House)Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars Just because Dale Watson established his M.O. of rugged honky-tonk, trucking songs and authentic Bakersfield country barroom ballads back in 1995 and has doggedly stuck to it for the past 20 years, doesn’t mean he’s some sort of narrow-minded retro preservationist. Rather, his love of all things deep country, in particular Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Sr.
The next time someone looks at you and says, “They don’t make country music like they used to,” hit them upside the head with a copy of this record. I’d recommend the vinyl version: it will make a satisfying whump sound as it strikes home, but shouldn’t do any damage, which should protect you from assault charges. That and the fact they had it coming.
Due to the number of labels he's released albums on, pinning down a definitive number remains a challenge, but it's safe to estimate Call Me Insane as Dale Watson's 16th studio album since his emergence in 1995. That's two decades of songs deeply steeped in traditional country on the subjects of love, honky-tonks, heartaches, beer, faith, trucks, and Texas. Call Me Insane follows the formula with a couple of minor detours.