Blog Archives

Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses) – The Low Highway

I collect Airmiles. I know you don’t care, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. Of course, I hate having an extra card in my wallet, trying to collect points in a system that makes it impossible to save up for anything really good (unless you’re in a tax bracket I can’t even see from where I’m sitting). However, I suffer it because every couple of months, usually with points procurred from buying gas for the car, and Drunk Review wine at the weekends, I cash in my points and get a free CD. Yes! This makes me inordinately happy and totally justifies the hassle.

This Steve Earle CD got rave reviews on peoples’ End Of 2013 Best-Of list over on Mike’s site.  I like Steve Earle’s music, though I wouldn’t consider myself an expert. The only other Earle I currently own is an Essential hits-type disc, but I did hear most of his records years ago through the Saskatoon public library, and I remember liking them then… so, I ordered this with my points just to check it out. Boy, am I ever glad I did…

The Low Highway is pure Earle Americana. Calico County is a great, bluesy tune but the verse sounds so much like a (slightly) slowed-down Wild Wild West by Escape Club, which in turn stole from Elvis Costello’s Pump It Up… look, this is a cool tune, but I can’t shake hearing the other tunes in my head. Burnin’ It Down is a pretty tune, easy to drift off meditatively listening to it…

That All You Got? brings back the bluesy boogie, with a bit of cajun spice mixed in. Love the instrumental bit in the middle. You know, every song here, so far, seems to find a groove early on and then just stick to it relentlessly. It’s not a bad thing, most bands would be lucky to have songs this strong. It’s just something I noticed. Love’s Gonna Blow My Way is a sweet little tune that jams along almost jazzily. Is that even a word, jazzily? says yes! It’s an adverb of jazzy. Cool. Good tune, anyway. I like it best here so far, maybe.

After Mardi Gras stomps along, vocals front and center. The music in the background almost seems like an afterthought, on first listen. I played it again and then I heard the tune more, all the tricky little chord changes. Put the two together and it works. Just don’t dismiss it on first go, as I almost did. It totally works if you give it another go! I promise! Pocket Full Of Rain is a jaunty tune anchored by a hammered low-end piano note. I don’t know why I can hear this being a TV show theme song, but I totally can. I like it.

Invisible is a melancholy acoustic number with deliberately twangy, rough vocals. Like the rest of the album, it just clings to the groove and carries on. This’d be a great on for a late-night drive on an empty highway. Warren Hellman’s Banjo starts out with just Earle’s vocals and banjo. The drums and fiddle come in later. Could be a sea chanty or a Celtic reel or something. Definitely near the sea, anyway, to my ear.

Down The Road Pt II is pure country, mandolin and all. Great beat, definitely a toe-tappin’ tune. The fiddle stands out to my ear, here. 21st Century Blues is an uplifting tune with not-so-uplifting lyrics. I guess the new century ain’t all Mr. Earle wants it to be. Ah well, he still holds out hope for us all. I appreciate that. And lastly is Remember Me, a slow dancer for when last call was half an hour ago and they’re putting chairs up on the tables. I really liked this track. Perfect ending to a great record.

What? A great record? After some of what I said? Yes. A great record. No one else could make this record, and we should all thank Mr. Earle and the Dukes and Duchesses for it. I think the main reason I call it great is because, for all its polish and professionalism, it still just sounds like a jam session. Loose, free, fun. Solid tunes that lock into themselves and just barrel along. Really cool. There’s something timeless here, on most of the songs. It’s gonna be just as good ten, twenty, thirty years from now as it is right now, I guarantee it.

1 Shot Spitune

Cincinnati Babyhead

Speaks his mind on music & movies!

Steve For The Deaf

Certain Songs Get Scratched Right In


The World Revolves Around Mars

Aphoristic Album Reviews

Personal Album Review Website

My (life in) music lists

These are the songs that have and will continue to soundtrack my life.


This world's so mixed up everywhere you go

Little Bits of Gaming & Movies


Blog All Night

Rhyme All Night

Stuff and That.

We do reviews, ya dig?


relaxing music

Every number one

Journey through all the songs that topped the charts

The Audible Stew

Salt to Taste

Metal-Nerd Blog

by Kingcrimsonprog


Because we really need something trivial right now


... and classic rock too!

Metal Odyssey > Heavy Metal Music Blog

Welcome to Metal Odyssey, it will be quite the Metal trip!

This is the story of the overly ambitious eagle...

...who evidently found a deer head in the landfill.

The Ü

Movies / Music / Odds & Ends

Songs on a Theme

pop, jazz, & other by subject

Living a Beautiful Life

~ Short Stories, Flights of Fancy and Everyday Anecdotes ~

Complex Distractions

conversations about music, life, and the alien overlords


Movie reviews and anything else that comes to mind


music is life, music is breath, music is us

A (Mostly) Music Blog

Some other stuff too, but mostly music.

Boppin's Blog

Albums, concerts, reviews, audio gear, how to's


Short Films, Stories, and Music/Film Reviews

Mike Slayen ~ Guitarist

Guitarist, Composer, Instructor

LP on 45

Celebrating how rock music sends us, saves us, and shows us our true selves—one single at a time

Free City Sounds

Album Reviews by Marshall Gu

80smetalman's Blog

Just another site

Every record tells a story

A Blog About Music, Vinyl, More Music and (Sometimes) Music...


Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

CD & Festival reviews

by Jon Wilmenius


"to be average scares the hell out of me"


Just another site

Thunder Bay Arena Rock

Hard Rock Album and Concert Reviews! (Odd Book Review as well!)

Caught Me Gaming

Confessions of a Casual Core Gamer

%d bloggers like this: