You don’t come by an album title like The Cold Hard Truth without suffering through some ugly experiences, and like anyone else, Ed Burleson has had his share. But in the best country tradition, this Denison, Texas, native throws those hard knocks into his music and learns from them in life. The title of his new release may seem like an ironic follow-up to 1999’s My Perfect World, but consider that between the two, Burleson lost his mentor, manager and producer, the legendary Doug Sahm, and his label, Sahm’s Tornado Records. That killed his career momentum despite Perfect World’s climb to No. 3 on radio trade magazine Gavin’s Americana chart. His divorce was just one more knockout punch. But Burleson, a former rodeo rider, picked himself up, dusted off, and jumped back in the saddle. He poured his honky-tonk heart into making Truth, which Palo Duro Records released April 27, 2004. This collection of 14 mostly self-penned songs is the product of that determination, but Burleson made sure to acknowledge the late Texas Tornado’s personal and professional friendship. His homage comes via Sahm’s own voice, which is heard in the intro to the previously recorded song, “Heart Break Highway.” What attracted Sahm was Burleson’s reverence for traditional bluegrass and honky-tonk, delivered with a distinctive nasal twang and not one note of insincerity. Chet Flippo commented in Billboard magazine that Burleson’s music is “the purest-sounding country...
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