REVIEW: Cliff Westfall’s “Baby You Win” is Honkytonk, New York Style


New York City/Kentucky roots musician Cliff Westfall’s new release Baby You Win is a solid honky tonk based old style country collection.  Produced by Bryce Goggin (The Ramones, Pavement, Phish) in New York City, this album is country music with a twist.   Featuring Charlie Giordano (the E Street Band) on keyboards, Scott Metzger (Phil Lesh) and Graham Norwood on guitars and Dan Iead (Norah Jones) on pedal steel backing Westfall’s vocals,  the collection of songs is honkytonk impulses underpinning complex guitar skills and wry lyrics.

“It Hurt Her to Hurt Me,” is a tongue in cheek song: “she’d rather quickly desert me than see me going insane.”  Title track “Baby You Win,” provides an opportunity to really hear what Norwood and Metzger can to on guitar part interplay. “Till the Right One Comes Along” features Girodano’s lively piano interspersed in its within its swingy drum cadence, with the tongue-in-cheek but oh-so true sentiment: “just let me love you ’till the right one comes along.”   On this one, Westfall’s vocals really achieve a true country-when-country-was-good level of excellence.  “More and More” is a traditional love and lament song built again around some wry lyrical twists: “more and more I love you less and less.”    Songs continue to start out by tapping into something familiar and simple — like “let’s fall off the wagon again,” and then turn around and wow you with some fast, intricate and nimble instrumentation when you’re least expecting it.

The rhythm section, Jeremy Chatzky and David Christian, achieves the straightforward beat that will remind you of when country music was good, and the pedal steel and the lyrics will drive the nostalgia home.  Meanwhile, the guitar parts and piano lay on an added complexity that will keep you ever vigilant and focused so as not to miss one single twist or turn.  Get your copy here.

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