This is a record I’ve loved for years. Honestly, it hasn’t been since 1987, the year of its release, because I’m sure I didn’t even know about it when I was 13. Still, it’s been a long, long time.
But since I discovered him, I’ve always liked Lyle. Yes, he’s a bit weird, but he’s also waaaay better country than a lot of of his contemporaries, he’s smart, and he throws in a mess of the blues, too. And big bands, and… well, you get the picture.
The classic If I Had A Boat is here, a song I learned to play on the guitar because my lovely wife (then my girlfriend) really liked it. The upbeat tunes like Give Back My Heart “chip-kicker redneck woman, I can’t be no cowgirl paradise” (cracks me up every time), L.A. County, and She’s Hot To Go (which is also jazzy) please me to no end.
There’s some slow dances here too, like Simple Song, and I Loved You Yesterday, and Walk Through The Bottomland, which are so well done. So. Well. Done.
And there’s bluesy tracks too, like She’s No Lady, M-O-N-E-Y, and Black And Blue. I sure do like those. They’re played with real skill, just like the rest of this damn album.
There’s something riveting about Lyle, something that demands that I listen to him when he sings. The music is tight, deceptively simple-sounding (it’s anything but), and overall this is feel-good, thoughtful music steeped in the history of its genres but brave enough to go on ahead and be strong in itself too, dammit.