Preview So You Wannabe An Outlaw by Steve Earle & The Dukes
So You Wannabe An Outlaw by Steve Earle & The Dukes
If someone asked me what I thought about Steve Earle then I would have to say that "he’s the plot to an improbable American archetypal rebel movie" – so many marriages, addictions, political activism, periods of absence, keeper of a musical heritage, revered status as a musician but little awareness of where he might stand in the history of recorded music after his recent quote in the UK press – “I’m a pretty obscure artist when you look at the big picture."
Well we all know he’s not obscure but this might tell you how he felt when he wrote his 16th release – So You Wannabe An Outlaw. He’s been a purveyor of high quality Americana/ Alt Country for some decades and his importance is still assured as he still has a lot to say. Earle prefaces the release by saying the album acknowledges ‘where he’s coming from’ and this album is a homage to Outlaw Music and especially Waylon Jennings. However he does say that the last marriage break up with Alison Moorer, and its debris, is still a component of his latest work.
“So You Wannabe An Outlaw” opens the record and includes a vocal from Willie Nelson, not in itself a novelty as he must have now made a duet with every major Country and Americana artist, but in this instance Willie was one of the original Outlaws and words such as:
So you wanna be an outlaw, better take it from me.
Living on the highway, ain't everything it's suppose to be.
Everybody reckons that they wanna be free.
Ain't no body wants to be alone
seem appropriate. Earle, here, writes of a habitual criminal with nothing to do other than keep moving on. The driving rock track with a tight band behind is excellent. However the band can switch and on the poignant tale of being trapped in crime “News From Colorado” Earle goes acoustic and with Eleanor Whitmore’s violin, Kelly Looney’s upright bass and Ricky Ray Jackson’s pedal steel we have a treat.
Miranda Lambert joins Earle on “This Is How It Ends”. Lambert who’s private life was trashed during a messy and very public divorce seems the ideal soul mate to reflect on an inevitable parting: ‘said you’d never lie and I promised I’d never run’. Again the band is in the background. “Girl On The Mountain” showcases the voice whilst he plays acoustic and that wondrous pedal steel quietly wails as he tells of love lost.
Earle does rip into some Country Rock that is very Outlaw and you can be sure to have his growly vocals turn your head with the best illustration being “Fixin To Die” where he pulls himself up to his full height and we get the roar.
“You Broke My Heart” is traditional Country – strictly Hank Williams but he’s more Buck Owens on “Walkin In LA’ where his old friend Johnny Bush joins him and tells us predictably that nobody walks in LA!
I don’t need to tell you that he has the pedigree but I do have a job in confirming that he still has the touch and it’s all here.