Entertainment Weekly - 6/20/03, p.73
"...His new album finds him back in the barroom, in touch with his jukebox roots. It's hard to imagine anyone doing it better..." - Rating: A
Personnel: George Strait (vocals, guitar); Biff Watson, Steve Gibson (acoustic guitar); Brent Mason (electric guitar, nylon string guitar); Chris Leuzinger (electric guitar); Paul Franklin (steel guitar); Stuart Duncan (mandolin, fiddle); Eddie Bayers (drums); Wes Hightower, Marty Slayton (background vocals); Nashville String Machine.
Recorded at One Way Nashville, Nasville, Tennessee.
Personnel: Biff Watson, Steve Gibson (acoustic guitar); Brent Mason (electric guitar, nylon-string guitar); Chris Leuzinger (electric guitar); Paul Franklin (steel guitar); Stuart Duncan (mandolin, fiddle); The Nashville String Machine (strings); Matt Rollings, Steve Nathan (keyboards); Glenn Worf (upright bass); Eddie Bayers (drums); Wes Hightower, Marty Slayton (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Chuck Ainlay.
Recording information: Front Stage At Sound Stage Studios, Nashville, TN; Ocean Way Nashville, Nashville, TN; Ocean Way Studios, Nashville, TN; South Texas Studios; Starstruck, Nashville, TN.
Photographers: Tony Baker & His Orchestra; Tony Baker .
Arranger: Bergen White.
On HONKYTONKVILLE, George Strait continues to provide a beacon of light for those who despair of 21st century country's shift towards generic pop. The title track itself could easily have fallen off of Merle Haggard's pickup truck, and in a similar spirit, the churning roadhouse romp "Honk if You Honky Tonk" would sound equally at home on a George Jones record. Strait is an interpreter (and a fine one), not a writer, and he taps some of the hippest songmen in the country game (including Jim Lauderdale, Bruce Robison, and Monte Warden) for the uniformly high-quality material to which he lends his lungs here. "Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa" could be a country cousin of Tom T. Hall's classic "That's How I Got To Memphis," and the clever "Four Down and Twelve Across" explores that long-standing overlap between country and soul. Strait is a lifetime resident of HONKYTONKVILLE, but anyone who loves tradition-minded country is invited for a visit.