Ever since “Achy Breaky Heart” showed the music industry that country music was a viable commodity that they could essentially destroy with too many cooks in the kitchen, the honky tonk twang that dominated the genre has been around. Rearing it’s ugly head to remind any two stepper where those pedal steel tones originated, the past decade has brought us plenty of artists who do the originators of honky tonk proud while staying arm’s length from the trappings of the major label system. When we first caught the “Brooklyn twang” of New York raised and Texas transplant Luba Dvorak, we were amazed at how he not only got what honky tonk was all about, but he wore it with pride in everything he did. On his new album American Sin, he reminds us that you can’t really honk the honk if you don’t tonk the tonk, and Dvorak certainly tonk’s the tonk.
Opening with “Single Scoop Single Lady,” all of that Texas twang gets baked i every stroke of the acoustic and every picked tone coming off of the pedal steel. The stride is pure two steppin’ music while Dvorak’s vocals are mixed right next to the instruments, meaning he kills off that tradition of the drums being buried at the bottom of the mix. While “Brake Lights (on The LA Freeway) has a nice ramble enough to be called beer drinkin’ music, and “Leaving Arizona” opens like a ton of bricks, the album isn’t just songs you can blast out the back of your pickup truck. Dvorak does a nice job of adding a mix of slow burners and upbeat songs that not only hold your attention, but stay with you as well.
“Irene” could be a radio hit if they ever played traditional country music anymore. The song has this healthy mixture of arranging that balances the ring of the pedal steel with a thunderous drum and Dvorak’s heartfelt vocals. “American Sin” slows things down without getting sappy in the process and includes some of the best instrumentation of the album. Here we can notice the subtleties of the drums and the vocals while the guitars are a bit distanced but not forgotten. But even with the grandiose and Conjunto graces of the Tom Petty cover “Walls,” Dvorak shines brightest when he’s playing to the Lone Star drinkers on “Queen Of The Rodeo.” With this power chord opening and a heaping of pedal steel, Dvorak not only steps up his game but he gives every fan of the genre an almost anthemic tune for the ages.
American Sin is available for pre-order directly from Luba Dvorak, it can be purchased from all digital music retailers and will be available to stream wherever you stream music when it gets released tomorrow. Luba Dvorak is on tour beginning August 30 in New York, NY at 11th Street Bar until October 30 in Houston, TX at Big Top Lounge. His complete tour schedule is available here.
Image Credits: Photo Courtesy of Artist.