Lyle Lovett is not your typical cowboy. Raised in Klein, Texas — a town named after an ancestor — he now owns a ranch and knows how to ride. But he studied journalism and German in school, and digs Hunter S. Thompson (even rumored to have purchased a Cadillac El Dorado from him). I imagine Lovett in school as the quiet and cool loner type, a young Clint Eastwood or Marlboro Man minus the black lung. He continues to work as an actor, occasionally in quirky films such as The Opposite of Sex and Prêt-à-Porter. With so many talents and points of view as an artist, I was looking forward to exploring his latest record, Release Me — an assortment of original songs and covers available February 28.
After 25 years with the same label (Curb), Lovett is certainly not subtle about moving on. He opens the record with a burst of energetic western swing on “Garfield’s Blackberry Jam.” Then offers the insightful title track about a relationship in transition as he sings: “Release me, and let me love again.” Sometimes playful, sometimes earnest, he takes us on the grand tour of his eclectic talents with original songs and covers from country to blues, and duets to gospel.
Overall, the record suffers from its lack of focus, yet Lovett’s voice sounds honest and clean and strong. Accordingly, the finest tracks showcase his voice on the beautiful acoustic guitar ballads, “Understand You” and “Dress of Laces.” His upcoming acoustic tour will be the perfect opportunity to witness the best of this modern hero of the American frontier. Can’t wait to see where he goes when he shakes off that lasso…