When it comes to great Texas singer-songwriters, performers and recording acts then Lyle Lovett is up there with the very best, and to many he is the best! Such is his unique stylist qualities both as a vocalist and writer Lovett is an impossible act to follow.
Utilising the songwriting powers of the likes of Eric Taylor via his excellent ballad ‘Whooping Crane’ and a feast of quality players that accompany him Lovett weaves his magical thread. Combines art with impassioned emotion of the heart like no other his songs gain a greater impact with every play such the fashion Lyle shapes a song to suit his own style. As heard in the above noted tune, that with wondrous guitar, piano and haunting steel guitar in support underlines my claim in spades.
A fan of western swing to go with his singer-songwriter base rich in heartache of well measured proportions he hits the heights instantly with the opening and title-cut, ‘Natural Forces’ followed by the energetic dash, ‘Farmer Brown / Chicken Reel’ followed by the fiddle, steel guitar laden ‘Pantry’. A co-write with April Kimble it also appears as an all-acoustic track, and is fabulous on both occasions as the second has Keith Sewell on lead acoustic guitar and harmony vocals join Duncan, Bush and Krauss as his accompanists for bluegrass to meet western swing at the crossroads. A tune set to get your feet a-tapping, as could be said of ‘It’s Rock And Roll’ (Robert Earl Keen-Lovett) that has opening lines of a Guy Clark feel, lyrically that has Lyle captivate the listener first off prior to him rocking the joint.
Like so many singer-songwriters today steeped in the craft of good stuff Lovett pays tribute to one of the State’s greatest songwriters, Townes Van Zandt. His cover of the late act’s ‘Loretta’ etched in steel guitar, lots of piano and warm flowing fiddle gains the painstaking reading it so richly deserves and, such is his rendition the spirit of Townes is rekindled during the duration of the song.
With an over-riding feel of hurt in his voice and a sombre edge as he is found in reflective mood on ‘Empty Blue Shoes’, ‘Bayou Song’ (shades of John Prine’s ‘Paradise’?) and ‘Don’t You Feel It Too’ by David Ball that sparks a feeling of heartache and despair his music remains near faultless. ‘Bohemia’ (Tommy Elskes) with a jazzy rock shuffles has a rambling foot-loose feel, like as if he was performing in an old club bar bar in the 1930s or just after such the edginess of his work.
While Lovett is great, praise must also go to Victor Krauss (bass), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Dean Parks (electric guitar), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Russ Kunkel (drums), Sam Bush (mandolin) and Matt Rollings (piano) who between them lend incredible support.
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