Steve Earle’s ‘Guy’ keeps the sounds of folk-country songwriter Guy Clark alive

By Bronius Zumeris

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.