Wednesday, March 4, 2015

His Ol' Friend, The Blues: Steve Earle's "Terraplane"

I love Steve Earle and thought his 2013 release "The Low Highway" was one of his best. Still, I hesitated when I got hold of "Terraplane."

"Steve Earle's blues record." "It's a blues record." One friend said, "The Steve Earle is boring."

I wasn't in the mood for a Steve Earle blues record anymore than a Todd Rundgren EDM record or a Bob Dylan standards record.  But I went in.

I love "Terraplane." It's a blues record...I guess.

You will recognize the blues, of course.  "You're The Best Lover That I Ever Had" is essentially "Smokestack Lightning" and "King Of The Blues" is just about everything else. But most of "Terraplane" is just Steve Earle doing what he does best. Every style of song here has been found on prior Earle recordings. You can call it the blues. I'm calling it another solid Steve Earle record.

"Ain't Nobody's Daddy Now" is a gliding bluegrass tune and "Go Go Boots Are Back" would not be out of place, rocking along side "Tumbling Dice" on the Stones "Exile On Main Street." Both are terrific.

But the two tracks I went back to three and four times so far are "Better Off Alone" and "The Usual Time."

"Better Off Alone" is a real killer, especially knowing Earle and his wife of 8 years Alison Moorer are in the middle of a divorce. This is a burner with a real emotional wallop. "The Usual Time" is a sexy shuffle with a great little hook and change on the bridge, and I think that "little hook and change" is what makes "Terraplane" more than just a blues record. Every song offers up something more than the usual fare associated with a "blues" record.

Have I said "blues record" enough?


Anonymous said...

I too was hesitant and then last week I was in a bookstore and I heard the most wonderful music playing on the speakers. Each song brought something a little different. At first I thought it was some sort of mix roughly arranged around the blues. And, then it hit me that it was Steve Earle. Boom, picked it up and haven't stopped listening to it. A real gem and a true craftsman at his best.


Gene Oberto said...


Ken D said...

Huh. It didn't grab me at first listen. But with these endorsements I'll give it closer attention.

Anonymous said...

I dunno, on certain recent songs, it almost seems like Earle is doing a caricature of himself. Sad to hear that Moorer and he are breaking up, tho who thought that would last? Maybe she'll get around to making another album like Miss Fortune.

Anonymous said...

Love it. That and the new Pops Staples thing. Bluesy, not "blues," and hell, he's been doing that since "Guitar Town." - bill buckner