David Stewart acquired the nickname “Waking Cowboy” when, in 1988, he made a 1,600 mile trek on foot from his native Wyoming to Nashville, where he was invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. It inspired a best-selling book, aptly titled Heart and Sole, and started him on the road to find further accomplishments, including a writing career that spawned several successful songs recorded by the likes of Tanya Tucker, Eddie Raven, Lonesome River Band, Carolina Blue, and Lorraine Jordan, as well as a 15-year weekly residency at the historic Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming.
The ten songs that encompass Still Got Some Cowboy In Me on Turnberry Records were written, naturally enough, by Stewart himself, either solo or in tandem with co-writers. Some have been recorded by others, but mostly, the album finally offers an opportunity to hear them as originally created.
To his credit, Stewart conveys an air of assurance and optimism throughout, most of which is shared through a casual sway and unassuming attitude. That’s especially obvious in songs such as Keepers of the Flame and A Long Time To Grow in particular, not mention the joy and jubilation found in the cascade of fiddle, mandolin, and pedal steel permeating proceedings overall.
That said, the mood isn’t always so serendipitous. One song in particular — that being Wyoming Wind — comes across as a bittersweet break-up song. Climbin’ the Walls, Walkin’ the Floor, Singin the Blues and Just an Old Penny betray more than a hint of melancholia despite a solid and sturdy delivery. Nevertheless, that downbeat disposition is more than made up for by the carefree sentiments of Chasin’ Old Memories Down and the sheer revelry conveyed through All Grassed Up, not to mention the confidence and clarity expressed in the spiritually-tinged Solid Ground and the resilience of the title track itself.
A thoroughly solid set of songs, Still Got Some Cowboy In Me ought to elevate Stewart’s recognition factor to the higher level he so decidedly deserves. This particular cowboy is riding high, and sharing his special gift along the way.