Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s new disc begins as a tribute to the sturdiness of thirteen classic (and familiar) honky-tonk songs especially loved by his late father, most of them from the 1950s. These tunes were at times the strongest connection between the two of them, and it appears that in homing in on some of Brian Gilmore’s favorites, Jimmie Dale has located material extraordinarily right for his own unmistakable style.
Gilmore renews the Harlan Howard standard “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down” with a take that has him sound both downed enough to call from below, and resilient enough to make the cheeky request. He brings the right percentage of insolence to Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #9″ (“Memphis Blues”).
On restless, itchy songs from “Gotta Travel On” to “I’m Movin’ On” and even to the more exasperated “Walkin’ The Floor Over You”, he makes you see the good-natured but real dislocation in that urge for going — which is much like saying, the Jimmie Dale in them. And he’s even more strikingly at home and on-point with tunes as varied but related in their stuck in-place, world-weary resignation as “Four Walls”, “I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive”, and “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me”.
This album’s interpretations make you believe that Gilmore’s knowing “Country & Eastern” flavor of fatalism has always lurked in honky-tonk. And his re-covering of Johnny Cash’s “Train Of Love” or Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me” clarify where the stoicism or wistfulness of earlier honky-tonk stylists is modified for new uses in his own distinctive style.
It’s been said that great art creates its own precursors. Come On Back can pass that test, and also the more important one: It’s going to get played time and time again.