If you’re a fan of the classic country narrative singers of the 1950s and ’60s, guys like Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, the Statler Brothers, or Webb Pierce, Jim Byrnes’s new release, I Hear The Wind In The Wire, will be right up your alley. Byrnes, born in St. Louis, has lived in Canada since the mid-1970s. He’s known as a blues singer and an actor but verges into country and gospel on this disc. It’s a collection of covers by great songwriters like Hank Snow, Bill Anderson, Gordon Lightfoot, Dolly Parton, Buck Owens, Marty Robbins, Nick Lowe, Tom Waits, and Carter Stanley.
Byrnes’s gruff-but-sweet pipes are perfect for this type of material and he sings the heck out of these songs, nailing but underplaying the emotion for even greater effect. An equal pleasure to Byrnes’s voice is the truly fabulous slide, electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitar playing of producer Steve Dawson. Anyone who can hear Dawson play and not be moved is made of stone. Together, they’ve produced a genuinely great disc (with not a little help from the remaining cast of fabulous session players). This just might be one of the discs for which Byrnes will be best remembered.