Music » Music Etc.

Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

by

We fall into habits that, if continued long enough, can become caricature. Steve Earle never got that far, but his angry, politicized country-rock was growing predictable by 2007's Washington Square Serenade, where simple musings on love and longing were the superior tracks. I'll Never Get Out is a well-timed return to his roots. It's an acoustic album with a dusty, spacious Texas vibe and a slow-clicking snare like a boot spur in producer T Bone Burnett's arid production. It's as ruminative as your front porch at twilight, a cold Lone Star between your legs. It's a surprisingly humble, austere album from a guy known for his brashness. The showstopper is the pretty, gently strummed, "Lonely Are the Free," a lovely meditation on our togetherness and separateness, in which Earle observes that "strong are the silent." From the shanty-style "The Gulf of Mexico" to supple Cold War ode "Waitin' On the Sky" and the cello-abetted folk of "I Am A Wanderer," Earle's return to traditional storytelling comes in an eclectic range of American roots approaches. The album is a terrific effort reminding us Earle was a storyteller before he was a provocateur, and he was pretty damn good at it.


comment