Monday, October 03, 2011

All the Girls Say "Steve Earle, Steve Earle"

2011 is the 25th anniversary of Steve Earle's Guitar Town, so I guess it's also the 25th anniversary of my being able to stomach country music. Prior to that, it was classic rock, punk rock, power pop and AM radio that filled my listening hours. Guitar Town is not only one of rock and roll's great debut albums, it was also a gateway drug to Waylon, Merle, Willie, Gram and a thousand others.

Earle has quite the career since - Grammy winner, drug addict, actor, divorce attorney's dream, novelist, activist, absentee father, record producer, playwright - but it's the songs that keep us riveted. That and the mystical puzzle for the ages of how he pulled Alison Moorer.

And now 21 year old Lydia Loveless (who name conjures up a goth country diva) has written "Steve Earle", a fitting "tribute" that paints Earle as a stalker of sweet young things who "won't stop calling me" and "just wants to write some songs", but all Lydia wants is for Steve "to please introduce me to your son", the ultimate backhanded compliment. And it's just the tip of the iceberg for Indestructible Machine, Loveless's brand new firecracker of an album, out now on Bloodshot Records. The album traffics in that Old 97's galloping backbeat, but recasts Rhett Miller as Loretta Lynn.

But mostly this album recalls the glory and go-for-broke-ness of the debut Lone Justice record, especially on the roiling "Bad Way to Go" and the unapologetic war cry of "Do Right." Loveless may not possess Maria McKee's wondrous range, but that's really praising by faint damn. Loveless is a take-no-prisoners storyteller, the freshest new female alt-country voice in recent memory.

Just for fun, I've also attached another "Steve Earle", this one by sappy country megastars Sugarland. This one sounds like Elly May Clampett first stalking then squawking Steve Earle. And finally a gorgeous, brand new cover by Kasey Chambers of Earle's "Nothing But A Child". Enjoy.

Lydia Loveless - "Steve Earle" (from Indestructible Machine)
Sugarland - "Steve Earle" (from Love on The Inside)
Kasey Chambers - "Nothing But A Child" (from Storybook)

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