Hearts And Minds
Label: New Rounder
These alt-country godfathers take their seventh album's title very seriously -- mostly by shedding the "alt" part. Honky Tonk opens with a lilting Cajun waltz, luxuriates in twin fiddles and luminous pedal steel, and steeps itself in the classic Bakersfield sound so thoroughly that there's actually a song called "Bakersfield." But frontman Jay Farrar's sharp, sympathetic songwriting prevents it all from lapsing into period-piece languor, keeping it sweet and simple: "There's a world of wisdom inside a fiddle tune/ Throw this love down the highway/ See where it takes you."