Wilson Dixon Rides Again

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Wilson Dixon shouldn’t be performing in the function room of a police officers’ social club, but around a campfire somewhere in the prairies of America, as a burnt-orange sun sets over a distant mountain and a coyote howls plaintively in the distance.

This good ole boy is a ponderous country singer, miles from the flamboyance of Tina C, and more law-abiding than Otis Lee; although they may have met one whisky-soaked night some one-horse town and sat trading stories till dawn.

Wild West clichés aside, this is an affectionate tribute to the philosophy of traditional country music, with its sensible home-spun wisdom and simple melodies. The genre has almost gone beyond parody now, so Australian comedian Jesse Wilson doesn’t try that tack, choosing instead to adopt the morals and outlook as a framework for his own jokes, even if some of the lyrics inescapably sound like old country titles: ‘We used to get on like a house on fire – until you set my house on fire…’

His best songs allow plenty of jokes to be hung off the same framework. The stand-out uses the same set-up ‘Life is like…’ for a dozen or more punchlines, all coming from a different direction. Equally, his closer mocks the meaningless phrases that fill our lives such as ‘I’m a people person’ by taking them at face value. Dixon is man who likes plain taking, but who isn’t adverse to an inspired metaphor or two himself.

The gag rate isn’t always so consistently high, however, as much of his act is more concerned with creating the right ambiance that maximising the laughs. The almost-soporific strumming lulls you to relaxation to let his tracks lap softly over you. But as you lightly slump, a subtly brilliant aphorism will occasionally be washed in on his tide. It might take a second to sink in, but they words are pity and wise.

The pace is slowest with the large chunk of the second half occupied by a long tale about hunting The Man With No Name, half in song, half in narration. It is a triumph of atmosphere-building over creating laugh-out-loud moments, but gently enjoyable nonetheless.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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