As you listen to "Drinkin' Doubles", the first song on Honky Tonk Heart, the sophomore album by Texas born Cody Widner, it is clear that traditional country music is alive and thriving in the Texas hill country and Widner is, no doubt, one of the main reasons why. This handsome cowboy with a voice reminiscent of one of his heroes; fellow Texan George Strait, definitely has what it takes to impact country music in a spectrum far broader than just the Texas hills he calls home.
According to a recent press release, it may not be only his singing and songwriting that is getting audiences excited, apparently, whenever the urge strikes him, he has been known to give away an autographed guitar during a performance. But it didn't take a free guitar to get my attention. The album features all the best attributes of classic country and this is likely what put Widner on the Country charts in, according to one source, a secure position "between Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack." His current chart climber is titled "When the Smoke Clears" but any one of the songs on this album is chart worthy.
"Feel Again" has Widner doing some great vocal harmony with someone who sounds like Lee Ann Womack and this was only one of the several songs that were stand outs for me on this album. I'm a real sucker for peddle steel and there is plenty of it in this song, and on this album; there is also plenty of wonderful, weepy fiddle. "Back in the Swing of Things" was one of the tracks that really stood out for me; in part, due to the great instrumentals. This particular track harkens back to the up-tempo, toe-tappin' songs that carried Bob Wills to fame and fortune and it looks like it could easily do it again for Widner.
"*A Honky Tonk Heart" is one of my all-time favorite songs by Keith Whitley and I didn't think anyone else could ever really do this song justice but I must admit that I did enjoy Widner's version. I think Keith would have liked this version too because it has some really great instrumental riffs to match the super vocals.
The album closes with "What Time Does the Band Start." This enjoyable waltz, with its lilting lyrics, will definitely leave you wanting an encore. I admit it, I found myself hitting "replay" more than once.
Widner says, "As far as music goes, I just keep it simple and keep it country, and that's it." Well, as far as I'm concerned, I think, in the case of Cody Widner, keeping it simple and country is right on target. If you are a fan of traditional country, look no further, Widner delivers with a splendid Honky Tonk Heart.