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Aural Pleasure Review

Ron Young: 'Under the Texas Radar'

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Thirty-eight years after making finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival, Young releases his debut recording featuring an eclectic batch of lighthearted, oft-heartbroken country songs. Though the longtime local music writer spent 14 years at Nashville publishing houses, most of these songs have been written since his return to San Antonio. The exceptions include a couple of the better tracks, the pretty countrypolitan dying embers ode, "Party of One," and the rockabilly swing "Too Hot." Fans of Jimmy Buffett (for whom it was written) might also favor the parrot-headed "Yuletide By the Poolside," featuring Augie Meyers. The balance of the album runs the country gamut. The best of these is album-opener "Waitin' On Willie," as much plea as song, sharing a spirit with Shel Silverstein's "The Cover of the Rolling Stone." Another highlight is his C&W Nashville ode "Long Ride," which announces his readiness to take his leave, but not before "I take what's rightly mine — a girl and a gun and the first open bank I can find." Hank Harrison's fleet-fingered mandolin really shines, as does upright bassist Mary Ann Cornelius. Young's versatility works against him; the hodgepodge of approaches prevents momentum from building, but there are at least a half-dozen winners among the 15 tracks.

★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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