Picks and Pans Review: Honky Tonk Attitude
updated 08/23/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/23/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT
The romantic excesses of country music's old smoothies—Eddy Arnold, Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, Kenny Rogers et al.—were counteracted by the more cynical, if hardly sober, tunes rendered by the likes of George Jones, Ernest Tubb and Waylon Jennings. Diffie, like Travis Tritt and Sammy Kershaw, among others, in effect has been charged with redressing the offenses of such while-hatted dreamers as Garth Brooks, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson. On this album, old Joe (he's only 33, actually) shows a positively Jonesian ability to treat the more demoralizing side effects of love.
Diffie and his producers, Bob Montgomery and Johnny Slate, start with a shrewd set of plaintive, crying-in-his-beer, whining-in-his-wine tunes, including the stridently macho title track and "Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)," "If I Had Any Pride Left at All," and "I Can Walk the Line (If It Ain't Too Straight)." Any couple that resorts to Diffie for their song had both better have good lawyers, but they won't be laboring under illusions.
While Diffie might benefit from a female partner to lament with (busy, Mary Chapin?), he sings in a lively, tuneful way, making this an ideal album to suffer by. (Epic)