Review: Dallas Moore, “Mr. Honky Tonk”

Dallas Moore has been writing and recording his brand of outlaw country for decades. In a typical year, he plays over 300 shows all over the country including Tennessee, Texas, California and Florida. With his latest release, Mr. Honky Tonk, he may have put out his best record to date. It’s the first of Moore’s albums to break the top 40.  The album is at #33 on the Americana Music Association charts.  This is the first album in which Moore has teamed with producer Dean Miller, son of the legendary Roger Miller.

The title track of the album is a song that Moore wrote around 20 years ago. If I hadn’t been familiar with Moore’s music, I would probably have never guessed. “Mr. Honky Tonk” doesn’t feel recycled or outdated. It’s a timeless song. As long as there are bars, “Mr. Honky Tonk” will be relevant. You could find the character Moore sings about in “Mr. Honky Tonk” in any bar in any city on any day. For that reason, it makes a perfect choice.  It’s upbeat, well-written and sets the tone for the album.

Still, I was curious why Moore, who can be nothing short of a prolific songwriting machine, would choose to revisit this song rather than use the spot to showcase one of the his newer songs. “I revisited the title track, a song I wrote nearly 20 years ago because I felt we had never gotten a great cut of the song and working with Dean and this band, it all came together like I had originally envisioned. We nailed it in one take and that led to expanding what was supposed to be a five song EP into a full length album.”

The first song on the album and first single is “Home Is Where The Highway Is,” a song Moore said he wrote on the road. This song is an example of why I enjoy Moore’s music. It’s not just some words put to music. The song tells Moore’s story and it means something. In the song, he name-drops a lot of places such as Phoenix, Bakersfield, Cincinnati and more. He spends a lot of time on the road as he travels around the country. For example, he answered my questions for this review after a 15-hour drive between shows in Texas and Arizona. While it might be an unpleasant life for some, Moore enjoys keeping this schedule and having the opportunity to play music for his fans and friends across the country. Moore, who is from Ohio, wrote the song “Texahio” about splitting time between Ohio and Texas, a state which Moore calls his second home.

Moore’s songwriting is honest, humorous and real. A good example of this is “You Know The Rest.”  There are some lines in his songs that I would probably call forced rhymes and clichéd from other artists. However, Moore makes it work effortlessly and it become part of the style his fans have come to expect. Another one of my favorite songs from the album is a ballad called “Kisses From You,” a song that I could easily see as a radio single.