Country music singer-songwriter and seasoned guitarist Steve Wariner delivered an easy-going, melodic sound during his successful '80s run as a major chart-topping artist. Even so, his popular songs during that period always remained strongly tied to traditional country in terms of instrumentation, tone and melancholy lyrical focus. Never quite a member of the early-'80s country-pop, Urban Cowboy movement and neither clearly labeled as a New Traditionalist, Wariner simply produced sharply written, beautifully arranged songs that deserved their country chart success. Although plenty of his songs were eclectic and broadly appealing enough to attract pop music listeners, Wariner's devotion to mentors like Dottie West and Chet Atkins perhaps kept him from seeming like a prime candidate for crossover success.
Nevertheless, fans of both pop and rock music should find plenty to like in Wariner's lean and passionate sense of songcraft. "Some Fools Never Learn" - a 1985 No. 1 North American country single from the LP One Good Night Deserves Another - clearly merits mention as a standout track but is by no means Wariner's only example of genre transcendence. As a solo artist, Wariner's gifts announce him more than anything else as a skilled singer-songwriter, regardless of categorization. But perhaps better than any of his laudable qualities as a musician, Wariner's classic tenor communicates longing, disappointment and hope more deeply than the army of current contemporary country artists who seem more concerned with wearing stylish hats and making sure their voice sounds "country" enough than writing and singing high-quality music. It's already too late, I guess, to keep me from sounding like an old fogey here, but I'm fairly confident it's more than nostalgia that sends me running for '80s country like this when I feel the urge to partake in the mainstream strain of that musical style.
- Sample or download "Some Fools Never Learn" here.
- Compare prices on Steve Wariner CDs here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of MCA Records