Dale Watson has always been the quintessential torch-carrier for traditional country, pushing forward the classic honky-tonk style of artists like Merle Haggard and Del Reeves. But on The Sun Sessions, Watson's fealty to old-school country sounds takes a somewhat different angle. Memphis' iconic Sun Studio is famed for being the birthplace of rock 'n' roll (via the earliest recordings of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, et al), but Johnny Cash's singular blend of country and rockabilly was born there too. And in cutting a batch of original tunes at Sun, Watson takes dead aim at the classic sound Cash crafted at 706 Union Avenue. The Sun Sessions is an earnest homage to Cash's signature sound, from the boom-chicka-boom train rhythms to the low-register guitar twang and crater-deep vocals. But this is more than mere revivalism; Watson's own toolkit frequently incorporates those elements anyway. Here, his expert application of them in the service of solid songwriting adds up to an album that's incisive on its own terms.