Joe Houck,
(independent, 2004)

Don't expect anything new from Dream. Every thought, sound and style on every song has already been done by someone else, usually done much better. But if you plant your tongue firmly in your cheek, you can enjoy Joe Houck's new CD.

Dream is hokey, but surprisingly addictive and firmly on the guilty pleasures spectrum in terms of quality, like Xena or those late-night Christmas romance movies on Lifetime. But once you surrender to the banal lyrics and avalanche of stereotypes, the album is a good time. Houck opens with a progression through the love life cycle: divorce on "A Man Can Tell," on the sex prowl on "Sugar Cane" and regretting the left-behind childhood sweetheart on "Just a Twinge of Regret." He tells us about the death of his daddy, his love for the prairie and how to love again (literally, as that's the title of a track) when your lady does you wrong. He doesn't talk about his truck, though: that's the only typical country topic missing.

All snarkiness aside, Dream really is fun. Houck's plaintive voice sucks you in. You will actually find yourself tearing up a little when his wife drops her wedding band in his palm, or when he sits outside the turning to Highway 5 where his high school girlfriend once lived. You'll even find yourself, to your great surprise, listening the whole way through. Just be sure to have a bottle of Wild Turkey nearby in order to drown your sorrows when you're done.

- Rambles
written by Tracie Vida
published 8 January 2005