Texas Songbook by Gary Nicholson

Of all the hits that Gary Nicholson has put his name on since the early 1980s, it’s “One More Last Chance,” which Vince Gill co-wrote and memorably recorded, that typifies his way with a song. Often, he lets loose with lyrics that are sly and sometimes wry, rolling atop rollicking rhythms that can make a drummer’s day.

Texas Songbook revisits songs others have sung (notably “Fallin’ & Flyin’” from the Crazy Heart soundtrack), but mainly, the disc is an earthy, often exhilarating ride across sprawling Texas-music terrain. Gary, a sturdy but limited singer, enlists a gang of Lone-Star-Staters including Joe Ely and Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson on guest vocals and taps longtime Willie Nelson harmonica man Mickey Raphael for “Letter to Willie,” on which Gary affectionately strings together a necklace of Nelson-penned pearls.

He pauses from his tongue-in-cheekery for the gospel-grounded and inspirational “Bless ’Em All,” but overall, his Texas Songbook is an oil-gusher that will lubricate your dancin’ feet and your funny bone in equal measure.

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