The Big Time
Label: Warner Bros.
A formalist forever, Yoakam sounds as hooked on Beatles/Beach Boys/Byrds pop-rock as Bakersfield honky-tonk -- despite an inevitable Buck Owens imitation or two. There's a hiccuppy "Man of Constant Sorrow" interpretation as well, and plenty of Elvis, especially the hooting-and-hollering Sun Sessions-style "Liar" and Memphis-comeback country-soul closer "V's of Birds." But the album's hardiest riffs, in the title song, are straight out of 1985 John Cougar Mellencamp. As far as lyrics go, regrets, Dwight's had a few. But the future looks bright ahead.