Dwight Yoakam began his music career in 1986, a time when country was going through an urbanized sea change. Since then he’s released over a dozen studio albums, and Second Hand Heart is just as at odds with what’s popular as his first couple records were. But unlike his previous work, he doesn’t feel like getting sappy about lost loves or time slipping by – he just wants to party. Through the decades, he has earned a reputation for his love of Chuck Berry licks and rock and roll at large. Rocking-est of all, opening track “In Another World” sounds like a Steve Earle greatest hit – it’s brazen, it’s loud, and it’s come to have a good time. Perhaps the best aspect of each song is Dwight’s own voice, with its youthful Dewey Cox-aping affectations. His youthful, joyous cries make him sound 30 years younger – like a more excitable Dierks Bentley. He yips and yodels in every chorus, most notably in “The Big Time” where he does his best Elvis impression in lamenting his own lack of mainstream success.
If fame for Dwight Yoakam meant Second Hand Heart wouldn’t be around, well, I, for one, am glad he’s not packing stadiums. It’s a record full of songs about living in the boozy moment, forgetting about ones that got away and lives that weren’t lived. Country so often focuses on loss and sadness that it’s exhilarating to be gifted a chunk of music that fits so perfectly in a ’65 Thunderbird convertible. Rock on, Dwight.