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The real soul of country music

Cowboy Real
Cowboy Real
By Tom Russell

Philo / Rounder Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

No country artist this side of Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson has a voice that conveys as much conviction and integrity as Tom Russell's. When you combine that rich baritone with the straight-ahead yet thoughtful songs he writes, you have one of the most undeservedly underknown artists on the country scene.

"Cowboy Real" will do nothing to diminish respect for Russell among the few fortunate enough to be acquainted with his talent. A collection of tunes devoted to the West, old and new, "Cowboy Real" is an all-acoustic set that does more to capture the brilliance of Russell's songwriting than any of his earlier albums. The songs are vintage Russell, with stories of heartbreak, of life's dreams unfulfilled, of love lost.

If you get tired of all the sound-alike clones on country radio, of artists who wear buckskin fringe jackets but don't know one end of a horse from another, and you get to yearning for old-time country, when the music still meant something, then you're ready for Tom Russell.