The powerful album aims to turn more listeners to the brilliance of Guy Clark who succumbed to cancer in 2016.
Like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark was a hero and mentor to Steve Earle. So when Earle puts together a tribute, no shortcuts are taken. 16 tracks bearing both cohesion and chutzpah are to be found. You can just envision good ol’ boys rampaging through town in a bashed up Dodge, swigging moonshine and listening to Guy.
Mordant and powerful songs such as ‘Dublin Blues’, ‘Desparados Waiting For A Train’, ‘That Old Time Feeling’ and ‘L.A. Freeway’ show Steve Earle & The Dukes know how to tear up a Saturday night bar-room audience. ‘Anyhow I Love You’ is a beautiful afterthought and evidences why Earle stands apart from the army of bearded crooners strumming their guitars searching for relevance.
Elegantly crafted, the lived-in voice of Earle remains strong and clear. ‘Heartbroke’ chugs along, as do the other songs set for vicarious listening. ‘The Last Gunfighter Ballad’ yearns for a forgotten time while ‘Out In The Parking Lot’ makes you want to take another swig from the jar.
Instinctive skill captures a band at the top of their game playing songs of a slower and more ponderous time. If you don’t find yourself shimmying to this, you need to take a long hard look at yourself.