"I Love Everybody," is a return to Lovett's early Texas-cowboy-poet style. In fact, it's a return to those earlier songs. While all 18 tracks on the album are previously unreleased, most of them date from the 1980s when he was writing far more high-quality material than anyone was interested in recording. This is sure to please his longtime fans, who believe Lovett has never written a better song than the early efforts "If I Had a Boat" and "God Will." Lovett has raided his attic trunk and has found a surprising number of lost treasures.
One of those gems, "Skinny Legs," kicks things off with a confession of jealousy. If he only had skinny legs, a new Toyota and a cute rear end, the singer laments, he'd have a girlfriend like that boy over there. Lovett's dry, deadpan drawl falls on the bouncy, catchy melody with enchanting ease, and he refuses to use a single word more than he needs.
The lightly swinging arrangements are as simple as the songs; Lovett and his acoustic guitar are backed by John Leftwich on stand-up bass and either Kenny Aronoff or Russ Kunkel on drums. Cellist John Hagen is added to five cuts, fiddler Mark O'Connor to six, the Tower of Power Horns to one, a gospel quartet to three, and a choir featuring Rickie Lee Jones and Julia Roberts to two others. At least half a dozen songs are slight one-liners which didn't deserve revival, and they dilute the album's impact. Nonetheless this is a welcome reward for all those who believe the funny Lyle Lovett is the best Lyle Lovett. --Geoffrey Himes