Picks and Pans Review: Highway Diner

updated 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Lacy J. Dalton

Admirers of small-town America, truck stops, expressways and "working people" can listen to the songs of Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellencamp and Merle Haggard. But this may be the first album by a major woman singer that seems seriously devoted to that kind of populist pop music. Dalton sings, for instance, composer George Green's This Ol' Town, which is not too far down the road from Springsteen's My Hometown or Mellencamp's Small Town. She does a tune, Working Class Man, that could be a cousin to Haggard's Working Man Blues. Another track, Changing All the Time, describes the plight of a long-suffering waitress, and another, Boomtown, shows how economic progress obliterates an old community. Dalton has the background to lend credibility to this material, having grown up in a small Pennsylvania town, where her father was a mechanic and hunting guide. Dalton herself put in some time as a waitress, as her mother had done. She also has the voice to carry off a singer-of-the-people kind of performance. She has always sounded a little sweaty, a little smoky, a little worn and torn, even when she was doing mostly cheatin' and drinkin' songs. This album, produced by Walt Aldridge, may expand her audience; it certainly should expand her reputation as one of the foremost practitioners of the music she calls "progressive country." (Columbia)

From Our Partners