I first became interested in this lanky Texan when I listened to classic Joe Ely LPs like Honky Tonk Masquerade and Musta Notta Gotta Lotta and read that he and Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale were once in a group together called The Flatlanders.
I started reading a lot about Jimmie Dale after that (he was voted Best Male Country Singer twice in the Rolling Stone Critics Awards).
So when I had a chance to pick up one of his albums on cassette back in the day I discovered this legendary Texan`s trademarked blend of hillbilly heart and hippie mysticism for myself.
Whether it is a Hank Williams cover tune (“I`m So Lonesome I Could Cry“), an obscure Elvis B side (“I Was the One“) or a Butch Hancock original (“Just a Wave“), Jimmie Dale`s singing on this 1993 Elektra Records release sounds like it`s coming right out of the crackly radio of a `52 pick-up rattling its way through the dusty backroads of Southwest Texas on a clear starlit night.
He`s got a hell of a band, too, what with James Burton on electric guitar (a bit of a legend in his own right), Glen D. Hardin (Elvis`favorite piano picker), pedal steel godfather Kayton Roberts, master dobro player Al Perkins and Joe Ely himself on back-up vocals.
Shucks, he even recruited fellow Texan Lucinda Williams for a heartfelt duet (“Reunion“).
Maybe it`s because Jimmie Dale doesn`t have the poster boy good lucks they like on country music videos . Maybe it`s because his distinctive and emotionally resonant vocals don`t fit in with those nine-in-a-row sweeps on what passes for country radio these days. Probably it is because he is too darn honest, unvarnished and just plain real for today`s synthetic country market.
Whatever. If you`re lookin`for an alternative to the current crop of blow-dried drugstore cowpokes you might look for Jimmie Dale in any of the surviving independent record stores or order from Amazon. (His latest album CD, released on 2011, is – fittingly entitled – “Heirloom Music“)