Thursday, February 12, 2015

Album Review: Steve Earle & The Dukes- Terraplane

Steve Earle & The Dukes
**and1/2 out of *****
Steve Earle is one of the first people thought of when the term singer/songwriter is mentioned. He is so much one that he hosts his own singer/songwriter camp every year and will talk at length about it. His newest release Terraplane is still an album in this vein but it dips heavier into the blues than Earle has ever done before with pretty standard results. 

Earle has taken a long and winding road through his career, (been in and out of jail, deals with substance abuse, recently broke up with Allison Moorer) so he has lived his share of blues and that feeling is palpable yet he doesn't wallow in the negative as might be expected. These songs feel like they could have been covers from the early 1900's but they are all Earle originals, in that sense they are timeless, but they are also fairly bland and unmemorable.

The opener "Baby Baby Baby" is straight ahead boogie and Earle is upbeat throughout, these aren't downtrodden blues but celebratory and The Dukes instrumentation is lush and pulsing. Earle turns his most poetic on the devil at the crossroads "The Tennessee Kid" number getting his wordiest and this type of tune fits him best. Another highlight is the duet with Eleanor Whitmore on "Baby's Just As Mean As Me" that has the swagger of New Orleans old-time party spot Storyville flowing through it.

There are a few fine numbers like "You're The Best Lover I Ever Had" and the folksie "Ain't Nobody's Daddy Now" but none are really engaging or linger past a listen or two. His only misstep is the odd "Go Go Boots Are Back" which goes for the lustful area of the blues and misfires.

Earle's vocal work on the disk is pure, rich and robust, some of his best to date, that the songs never soar seems to be fine with him as he is just singing the blues in his way. Terraplane is a sufficient ride, but it doesn't move you to an otherworldly place.   
We dig Earle.You can support the artist here and buy the disk here. Also peep some video below:

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