Good new music: Dwight Yoakam's "Three Pears
Dwight Yoakam's newly-released album Three Pears is straight-up classic rock and roll without a chaser. The sound throughout is remarkably fresh, even while several tracks feel like they could have topped the charts back in 1954 or '64. Yoakam, who released his first album in 1986, is an independent-minded singer-songwriter whose twangy vocals and steel guitar arrangements hearken to country music, while his songs' punchy, 4/4 beats and bare-bones structure have endeared him to punk rockers. Whatever category you slice this musician into, however, his music reaches beyond them to do what rock and roll does best: take an emotional situation and shake it vigorously for three to four minutes, until its manifold held-back aspects tumble out. Two of the finest cuts on this awfully fine album, "A Heart Like Mine" and "Missing Heart," were co-produced and recorded with musical impresario Beck, who is perhaps responsible for the seamless meshing of form and content both feature: "A Heart Like Mine" fades out two-thirds of the way through, then faithfully surges back to end on a rousing note, while "Missing Heart" ends abruptly, mid-sentence and mid-note, gesturing toward that missing ingredient. This album of straightforward, confidently-executed love songs shows once again that a simple heart and fresh mind can blast through stone.