LARRY JON WILSON
Larry Jon Wilson
Thirty-five years ago, Larry Jon Wilson (“Ohoopee River Bottomland”) nearly measured flush against Guy Clark (“Desperadoes Waiting for a Train”) in Heartworn Highways. Tauter storytellers rarely emerge north of Billy Joe Shaver. Unfortunately, paths diverge. Wilson quit recording. Today, Clark’s newest vignettes (“Hemingway’s Whiskey,” “The Guitar”) redouble standard, but Wilson’s first collection in a quarter century falters. While his glorious voice-a gruff weapon, equally forceful and forgiving-still fills the echo chamber between Vince Bell and Johnny Cash, too many songs (“Throw My Hands Up,” “Where From”) ring hollow with cheat and cliché. Notable exception: the timely “Heartland.” “There’s a big empty hole in my chest now, where my heart was,” Wilson rasps on the Dylan/Nelson cover. “A hole in the sky now where God used to be/because my American dream fell apart at the seams.” The epic “Whore’s Trilogy” buoys interest, but shallow ballads (“Me With No You,” “Rocking With You”) ultimately anchor discontent.