Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Jimmie Dale Gilmore [HighTone, 1989]
Cut in Joe Ely's basement, Gilmore's 1988 debut sank or swam with his rather pinched delivery, so if it contained anything as gorgeous as Gilmore-Hancock's "See the Way" and "When the Nights Are Cold," there was no way to know it. Cut in Nashville, this one beefs up both voice and settings. The imagistic honky tonk of Gilmore's "Dallas" and Hancock's "Red Chevrolet" are why poets would-be like steel guitars. Mel Tillis is tapped for a sneakily oblique opener. And the rest is the kind of principled professionalism that's made Randy Travis a heartthrob. A-