Picks and Pans Review: Gone

updated 11/27/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/27/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Dwight Yoakam

For my money, Dwight Yoakam is alone among today's bestselling country-music artists: He has the grit and individuality once common currency in this genre. With Gone, his sixth studio album, he and his producer Pete Anderson (who doubles as his lead guitarist) continue to widen the gap between themselves and the pack, attesting not only to Yoakam's singing and songwriting but to the virtues of teamwork. As if being country's most imaginative, flashiest lead guitarist weren't enough, Anderson is a well of ideas and tasty little fillips—a sitar here, a martial-sounding snare drum there. Yoakam, too, is stretching. Not only did he write or cowrite all 10 songs but he pushes his voice into places it has never been: the heartbroken whisper that begins "Nothing," the guttural hollers of "Near You." On "Sorry You Asked?," the tongue-in-cheek plaint of a lovelorn complainer, Yoakam pulls the plug on himself, purposefully fading out the song in mid-verse. Give Yoakam the hook? Hell, nobody else would. (Reprise)

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