Note to lonesome L.A. cowboys (hangin' out and hangin' on): DO NOT put your too-trite, beat-up, scuffed-up, working-man's boots on the cover of your CD. Ditto your two-tone cowboy boots. LA tonky David Serby has the Dwight Yoakam look nailed on his second album, Honkytonk and Vine, right down to turned-up collars on his Levi's jacket and the poofty little handkerchief tie around his neck. The whole thing just screams "LA phony." If you think image is everything, you need to check out Redd Volkaert in his over-alls and tennis shoes sometime. Everything about this exercise in turd-polishing is all wrong. Up against the playing of L.A.'s session elite, Serby's voice is monotonous and permanently flat; he couldn't hit a note much outside middle C with a hand grenade. Singing seems so unnatural to Serby that it sounds as if his vocals have been cut-and-pasted into the mix, often not quite fitting the rhyme scheme. Zero vocal subtlety. Zero.
And Serby's lyrics are about as sophisticated as a child's coloring book. On the opening Yoakam-imitative track, the hook - if you can call it a hook - is "put your foot to the floor, blow out the door, get it in gear." Whatever.
The cliches just get deeper from there: "I guess I've always been a playboy, and you've always treated men like little toys, but at closin' time we always share the last dance, maybe love is giving us one more chance." Hmm. Pretty bad. I don't know what a cliché ripped from clichés is, but I suspect Serby has patented the process.
Forget the L.A. Times article about Serby locating his biological father and discovering that he's a honky-tonker too (a publicist's dream!). And forgive almost always spot-on L.A. music scribe Chris Morris for touting Honkytonk and Vine as one of the ten most highly anticipated SoCal releases of 2009 in LA Weekly; that's just home-team talk by Morris, who's a decent guy. Serby may be an act to be considered in L.A. country-music circles (I suspect not really), but he couldn't park cars at bars in Texas. Hopefully he'll never try.
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I know it's not eco-friendly, but I distinctly remember sailing Serby's previous CD out the window of my truck at 70 mph. I don't think I'll even get up to 55 for this one. Don't waste your time on Honkytonk and Vine. If you want to buy a mediocre honky-tonk record, there's several bands here in town who would appreciate your financial support.