Dwight Yoakam
Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars …
Sugar Hill Records

From Britain waving au revoir to Europe, to the sudden departure of a legendary Starman and the appalling behaviour of a bright orange bigot, it’s been a year of jaw-dropping headlines. While not quite in the same league, the talk that Dwight Yoakam’s new album, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars … was to feature a bluegrass cover of Prince’s Purple Rain certainly got country-music tongues a-wagging. While its nigh on impossible to match the Purple One’s original, Yoakam justifies the pre-release chatter: his raw and honest cover version is an honourable tribute to the late star (another of this year’s shocking moments), and a similar passion runs throughout the entire album. The remaining hand-picked 11 tracks from Yoakam’s back catalogue aren’t necessarily his biggest hits, but they do work well as bluegrass interpretations. Yoakim is backed by an assembled band of accomplished musicians who provide a vibe that’s more hillbilly honky tonk than his typical Hollywood country heartbreak. While it may not please the bluegrass purists, it’s fun to hear Yoakam mixing it up a little.