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coverpic flag US - Texas - Full Moon 156 - 06/07/09

Steve Earle
New West/Playground

This record has in many ways been in the making for some years. I'd guess about thirty or so, but who cares. Earle and Van Zandt was in the same circle of friends (with people such as Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell), beautifully portrayed in the classic film Heartworn Highway, released 1981. I suppose it would be fair to say that Van Zandt was Earle's mentor through the years, and that naming his son after Townes (a great artist in his own right, and living up to his name) was more than a tip of the hat.

Earle might have been one of the first hear some of these songs after Townes wrote them, and know them better than many. And this might just be the problem here. Earle does not seem to have fresh and excited approach to this set of songs. It's as if he's getting it out of his system. So, here's the deal. You get what you expect to get. Earle is doing Townes with his heart and soul ... and respect. If you like Townes and if you like Earle, then this is an album you will appreciate. If you're looking for groundbreaking interpretations or sounds to soothe your musical perceptions, you'll probably find something elsewhere.

This said, I am of those who like Earle's new found interest in drum machines and sonic disturbances. Songs like "Loretta" and "Where I Lead Me" does bring some new light into songs that I haven't fallen that hard for before.

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