Jon Emery

V.I.P.: The Leroy Preston Song Book

With his sense of humor, his down-and-out songs, and his wordplay that turned country convention upside down, Leroy Preston gave Asleep at the Wheel dimensions it has lacked since the seventies. Kyle's Jon Emery, a co-leader of Preston's post-Wheel band, Whiskey Drinkin' Music, reprises five of those songs here, and it's a measure of their durability that, with the possible exception of "My Baby Thinks She's a Train," none sound much like the originals but retain a similar impact. The irrepressible gospel of "Somebody Stole His Body" requires only a furiously strummed acoustic guitar, a prickly Dobro, and Emery's fire-and-brimstone vocals. The songs most listeners won't already know convey Preston's aching, mixed emotions just as strongly. "I'm Not the Sky" has such a spunky, upbeat sound that it takes a while to notice that its lyrics are as sad as his saddest ballads, and the closing "Leg Man," which is told from a frog's point of view, is both ridiculous and sublime.

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