Dave Gleason: Just Fall To Pieces

By: Dennis Cook

From the opening '60s Haggard-worthy riff through battering memories and neon roses, Bay Area twang maestro Dave Gleason and his wonderfully Wasted Days transport us to the archetypal Bakersfield that sits in our collective memory – a place where the suds are always cold, blue trains roll by and Nudie Suits are all the rage.

Rather than bang something they love into new shapes, the Wasted Days highlight everything enjoyable and nourishing about country-rock, with a heavier emphasis on the first part of that hyphenate than most. Their third album, Just Fall To Pieces, hits all its marks, moving with the grace of the best goddamn bar band you ever wanted to stumble into – great tunes, great musicianship and a great catalyst for putting some scuffs on the dance floor.

"Right Back To Your Heart" equals the best early Dwight Yoakam, guitars cranked to 11 with a chorus perfect for stadiums full of beered-up blue collars to holler. And if there's a more intrinsically perfect lil' composition than "Rusty Ol' Halo" I haven't heard it this year. "Halo," with it's skinny little clouds, wooly robes that scratch and second hand wings with patches, is the kind of gem Steve Earle used to pump out in his Copperhead Road days. "The Good's Been Gone" could give George Strait a solid start on his second set of 50 Number One hits, and the title tune could sit proudly inside the Flying Burrito Brothers' Gilded Palace of Sin.

There's a good word for every cut here, and all are powered by Gleason's pure, endlessly appealing voice and snaky guitar with the barroom right playing of Mike Therieau (bass, vocals), Pat Johnson (guitars, vocals) and John Kent (drums) behind him. They play with the offhand polish of Buck Owens and his Buckaroos in service of material on the order of early songwriter period Willie Nelson. Toss in choice guest turns from Red Meat's Michael Montalto, guitarists Albert Lee and Jim Campilongo, pedal steel champ Joe Goldmark, keyboardist Dan Eisenberg (Tift Merritt), and Thom Moore of The Moore Brothers and you've got the ideal score for closing up honky tonks far and wide.

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[Published on: 10/3/07]

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