I first came across James Dupré of Bayou Chicot, Louisiana, when I was searching for George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning” video. I was floored. He sings it perfectly, effortlessly, with feeling. No explication needed. Whatever talent he had should have been sabotaged by the bad lighting, the LED reflection on his face, and the fact that he is singing along to a karaoke instrumental of the song—but no, none of that mattered. It came out right in spite of everything that is supposed to be wrong about making music in the age of the Internet.

Since then Mr. Dupré has posted more than 100 other videos. He is good in all of them, although our tastes don’t always match. (Not even you can save the Goo Goo Dolls, James.) I like his older videos better—they are plainer. More recently, he seems to have adapted to someone else’s picture of what a guy with a guitar should sound like in 2011. Apparently it’s working for him. The Internet tells me he’s been signed to Warner Bros. and recently made an appearance on the talk show Ellen singing “his favorite Matchbox 20 song,” “3am.” (It’s my favorite too, James.)

Tonight I came across him again because I was seeking out another country classic—“Tennessee Whiskey” by George Jones, which I found immediately. Good stuff from the comments section: “Another gem from the Rolls Royce of country music.” So true. “Possum is the fuckn man,” cheered another virtual fan. Indeed he is. Dupré does a fine version of the same song. What a great voice. Jones famously said, “They can always tell when a singer is faking it.” And they can tell when he isn’t.

James Dupré is not the Rolls Royce of country music. He’s more like a used Eldorado found mint in a nowhere lot, the leather interior still supple. Or at least he was. He deserves whatever success he finds in the Rob Thomas realm, but at the risk of sounding like too much of a snob, I wish he had been born to an earlier era, when the country market might have welcomed the basic and plaintive approach of his “Amarillo By Morning” without alteration. Strait should be relieved that this guy didn’t debut in ‘84. He has the gift. Nevertheless, I’m hoping Nashville will adhere to its traditions of anglicization and revoke his right to use an accent mark over the last letter of Dupré. It’s too much a flourish for a man who needs none.



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