On Cost of Living Delbert wrote or co-wrote all of these songs of what he calls 'days in the life'. Album highlights include 'Right to Be Wrong', 'Kiss Her Once for Me' and 'Midnight Communion'. New West. 2005.
Like a rootsier Jimmy Buffett, Delbert McClinton is an established, hard-touring veteran whose audience doesn't expect from him too much out of the norm. Regardless, the Texan's quintessential mix of country, R&B, Tex-Mex, blues, honky-tonk, New Orleans bump, lounge jazz, and good-time rock and roll is durable enough to sustain a career, especially since nobody does it nearly as well as he does. In the spirit of "don't fix what isn't broken," this album of 13 McClinton originals preserves the established formula. But to his credit, the leathery-voiced singer, now in his mid-60s, never seems to be going through the motions. He delivers this good-natured Americana with gutsy enthusiasm and enough raw energy to power the ocean liner on one of his famous blues cruises. Just as comfortable tearing into the Stonesy rock of "Dead Wrong" as the soft, Spanish guitar-driven folk of "Down into Mexico"--a tale of a robbery/relationship gone bad that flawlessly mixes his tender and tough sides--McClinton revels in his element. Fiddles, sax, and pedal steel augment the arrangements, highlighting the country and blues at the heart of Cost of Living
. All that's missing is the sweat, booze, and boisterous crowd that remain an integral aspect of McClinton's legendary shows. --Hal Horowitz