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Don Walser
DARE TO DREAM: THE BEST OF DON WALSER
(TEXAS MUSIC GROUP/LONE STAR)

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If the first ten seconds of "Cowpoke" donít catch in your throat as surely as Texas singer Don Walserís timeless yodel soars above the plains of myth and history, you might not care about the rest of this collection. On the other hand, if musical moments that feel stirring, sad, and ennobling all at once tend to get your attention and Walserís not already in your album collection, then Dareís a great way to get to know the 67-year-old yodelerís unique brand of country. Culled from a nearly 50-year performing career (though, oddly, his career only kicked into high gear in 1994, after heíd retired from the National Guard and began recording for the Watermelon label), this 20-track retrospective makes a convincing argument for Walser as one of the purest, protean singers in all of country music. Thereís the yodel, of course ó a genuine freak of nature and a joyous sound to behold ó but of equal importance is the plaintive, courtly ache in his voice on tracks like "Please Help Me Iím Falling" and "Whispering Pines." And age hasnít done a thing to dampen or mute Walserís unique instrument ó just compare his singing on the 1964 version of his best-known tune, "Rolling Stone From Texas," with those on the reading he cut three decades later, both of which are included here.

BY JONATHAN PERRY

Issue Date: February 14 - 21, 2002
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