Another Sleepless Night
A natural born honky tonker, the Southern California-based David Serby establishes himself on his second album as a worthy heir to Dwight Yoakam's West Coast country crown. But where Yoakam dresses up his music with rhinestone-studded moves, Serby takes a more low-key approach, and his music wind up feeling more personal. On Another Sleepless Night, he focuses on the travails of marriage, the heartache of infidelity and nagging memories of the past. The album starts off strongly with the big beat honky tonker, The Most Reckless Thing. Like many a good country tunesmith, Serby gives the title phrase a good spin by initially stating that the 'most reckless thing' he ever did was to marry before he turns 'reckless' and squanders his marriage by leaving his wife crying at home 'while I was out having fun'. Sometimes on this disc he plays the scoundrel while at other times, however, he's the good husband (or at least attempting to be one). In Nobody Here By That Name, he rebuffs calls from an old girlfriend and in the bluesy I'm A Different Man Now, he asserts to his girl that he's sobered up and got a job - even though he once 'took all of your money'. He humorously boasts in Somewhere You Once Lived that 'I ain't saying that I'm perfect/Or that I never lied/At least I was free/On our wedding night'. This tune is one of several where the woman is cast as the marriage wrecker. If That's What You Call Love, which sports a nifty Dave Edmunds-like guitar riff, has him discovering that his wife is trying to impress another man. Both Blame On July and Don't Turn On The Light finds him crying over his wife's wild ways, but Serby comes off as a blue-collar guy confiding to you in a bar. He uses his everyman persona to great effect in the chilling tale You're Not Going Anywhere, in which he portrays an abusive man who takes violent revenge on his cheating girl. He comes off more sympathetic in another memorable crime story, We Don't Live Here Anymore, where a desperate man breaks into the house that used to be his before the bank repossessed it. This noir-ish tale also spotlights another of disc's strengths, the solid play by Serby's supporting players. Producer/multi-instrumentalist Edward Tree whips out a fiery guitar solo on We Don't Live that reinforces the song's dangerous mood. Veteran Nashville drummer Billy Block, bassist Taras Prodaniuk (Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams) and pedal steel stalwart Jay Dee Maness also help to give the disc a rugged roadhouse sound, but it's Serby who shines the brightest throughout this disc. His lived-in, laconic vocals, his sharp storytelling and his classic county melodies all make Another Sleepless Night a superior set of timeless honky tonk music. -- Michael Berick.