Porter Wagoner Wagonmaster

Porter Wagoner Wagonmaster
While he may be best known for discovering Dolly Parton and introducing her through their late ’60s duets, Porter Wagoner has remained a pillar of the Grand Ole Opry, and one of the last bastions of the classic Nashville aesthetic. It’s a bit surprising, therefore, that Wagonmaster finds him following the example of Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn in seeking out a hip, younger audience. But like those records, Wagonmaster is a revelation, and further proof of how Nashville has consistently shoved aside artists like Wagoner in favour of the latest custom-designed Lynyrd Skynyrd impersonators. Credit the much-undervalued Marty Stuart for coaxing Wagoner out of semi-retirement, and his sympathetic production contains just enough modern touches to place the album squarely in a contemporary roots rock context. It helps that the songs are consistently strong from start to finish, as they paint an at times, heartbreaking picture of Wagoner in his declining years. For every rousing honky tonk shit kicker like "A Fool Like Me” and "Hot Wired” there’s a chilling slice of hospital life, "Committed To Parkview,” and the self-explanatory "The Agony Of Waiting.” But taken as a whole, Wagonmaster is the kind of record Nashville churned out on a daily basis four decades ago, and its freshness is a stunning illustration of how much country music has strayed. (Anti/Epitaph)