Country music Hall of Famer Vince Gill has teamed up with the outstanding steel guitar player Paul Franklin to create one of the most important albums of the year so far. “Bakersfield” pays tribute to two of country’s most influential players, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Vince and Paul have used their love for this music and their immense talent to collaborate on an album that reminds us classics never go out of style.
The album consists of 10 tracks, five being Merle tunes and the other five coming from Buck’s catalog. The passion that Vince and Paul have for this album is evident through the song choices, the production, the instrumental solos and the way Vince interprets the timeless lyrics. The album kicks off with Buck’s up-tempo “Foolin’ Around” and right off the bat you know you are in for a musical journey. Kenny Sears, who plays with Vince and Paul in the Western Swing Band the Time Jumpers, lends his fiddle skills to this heartbreak shuffle. Next up is “Branded Man” and it easily stirs up the honesty and truth that country music possesses. While listening you will hear that Vince subtly switches his vocal inflections and style to fit each artist and each song. However, at the same time, he adds his own nuances, which makes the album unique to him and Paul. Every single track on the album is a standout, but the iconic “Bottle Let Me Down” and “The Fightin’ Side of Me” are two songs you may want to leave on repeat. In addition Paul and Vince both deliver goose bump moments in “I Can’t Be Myself.”
While the music is superb, there is another reason that makes this album extremely special. Vince and Paul are doing a great service to country music by introducing these pioneers to a whole new group of country fans. Many fans have come to country music later in life and may not have this musical background. The reawakening of these songs is nothing short of a gift. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard helped define a sound and paved the way for many others in the genre. These songs and this time period should never be forgotten and thanks to this album, a new Merle and Buck fan may be born.
Vince and Paul are two people who know whole-heartedly that you must NEVER forget your roots and you must revere those who came before you. This respect that they have shown has garnered them massive respect in return. Merle Haggard wrote the liner notes to the album and “The Hag” himself sings high praises of “Bakersfield.” If that isn’t the ultimate seal of approval I don’t know what is. Be sure to check out “Bakersfield,” which is available NOW!
“Bakersfield” is available on iTunes and Amazon as of July 30th, 2013