Picks and Pans Review: Population Me

updated 08/04/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Dwight Yoakam (Audium/Electrodisc)

Rueful and wittily cynical, this is a splendid album about the travails of romantic disappointment. The King of Regret himself, Willie Nelson, even joins Yoakam for a duet on "If Teardrops Were Diamonds." Yoakam wrote that easygoing lament, as he did six other of the disc's 10 tunes, including the cleverly titled "Fair to Midland" (a pun on "fair to middling"). The best of the non-Yoakam compositions is the sprightly "The Back of Your Hand": "You take a guess where I stand/ Pick a number from one to two/ Take a look at the back of your hand/Just like you know it, you know me, too."

The catch in Yoakam's voice makes him an ideal candidate to sing for the lovelorn. And the musical arrangements stick close to the singer's Bakersfield rockabilly roots. One odd choice, though, is the Burt Bacharach-Hal David number "Trains and Boats and Planes," a mundane pop tune if ever there was one.

BOTTOM LINE: Get the Dwight stuff

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