Monday, March 2, 2015
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: STEVE EARLE & the DUKES - TERRAPLANE
Well whaddya know? Another surprise from Earle, who has thrown us many curve balls over the years. This one isn't as radical as the loops he used a couple of albums back, but sure enough, it's different. It's a full-on blues album, music and themes. But with this one, it feels a lot more natural, another part of his roots background, and the real surprise is that he hasn't done more in the past, because it's that good.
Earle has been exposed to the blues all along, from his Texas upbringing, to the blues side of all the hurt and heartache he's gone through in his life. It's there in songs such as Better Off Alone, a break-up song with the admission "I'm going to miss you when you're gone, but I'm better off alone." Earle understands the mythology as well, conjuring up his own deal with the devil story in The Tennessee Kid, another guitar slinger who gave up his soul in a foolish deal. Then there's the epic King Of The Blues, "descended directly from St. John the Conqueroo." Earle knows the blues in-depth, and knows how to have fun with it too.
Really, he didn't have to change his sound much either. The Dukes let the electricity and guitar flow a bit more, and the bluegrass is put away for the time being. But the blues have influenced Earle's music going back to Copperhead Road, so fans shouldn't have any issues at all. In fact, it's one of his most focused and enjoyable sets, and that's saying a lot.