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on October 22, 2009
I own every album that Lyle Lovett has ever made, and I waited anxiously for this new release. Unfortunately, it's not his best work. There are still the ballads in his unique voice that grace every album, but they're not HIS songs. He's used other songwriters for some songs (not a problem on his "Step Inside This House" album) but on "Natural Fores" the choices seem a bit thin on emotional stirrings. Lyle is an amazing songwriter, and I prefer his touching words to almost anyone's. That being said.....the songs he did write on this album are ridiculously childish! Normally every album has a "quirky" or "fun" song or two, but they always tell a great story, albeit in a light-hearted way. The goofy songs he chose to put on this album are just...dumb. "Keep It In Your Pantry" is repetitive and nonsensical (though the acoustic version is the better of the two versions). "Farmer Brown", while a nice reel, is not my choice for labeling a "good Lyle Lovett song".

That being said, there is still his wonderful voice and style, and "Empty Blue Shoes" is up there with his best work. "It's Rock And Roll" was a great rockin' treat. This album earned 3 stars because it's Lyle Freakin' Lovett, and he's awesome. Not his best, but he's still better than almost anyone out there, so I'll purchase everything he puts up for sale!
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on October 23, 2009
Whew!

There are many artists I used to listen to early on in their career and in the course of time lost interest. They may have changed too much, they may have changed too little, they may have started to appeal to the masses and I have started to turn away in a stupid "but I knew them back when..."-attitude. Whatever the reason, it happened with John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, R.E.M., Big Country to name but a few, and yes, it also happened to me with Lyle Lovett. The first album of his I bought was Pontiac and I fell in love with "If I Had a Boat", "Walk Through the Bottomland" and "L.A. County". I stopped buying his CDs after "Step Inside This House", still gave them a listen but then decided to spend my money on Son Volt, Todd Snider or Ryan Bingham.

Until "Natural Forces" that is: "Natural Forces" is good ol' Lyle and still fresh and new that I'm looking forward to the first time I put this in my CD changer in the car next spring and roll down the window driving along the country roads. It's not as good as "Pontiac" but it comes damn close. Try the title song, the stompin' "Pantry", the plaintive "Empty Blue Shoes" or the Townes cover "Loretta" and you'll see what I mean.
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VINE VOICEon October 27, 2009
There are few artists that I have loved for the duration of their careers. One of the other of us grows apart. Lovett's music has sustained me for years. I love his humor, his sentimentality, and the sheer level of musicianship here.

Here are a dozen songs covering everything from lost love to the music business. Most of the music here is from Lovett's more country style rather than the large band and it's good introspective music.

Following is just a sample of a few of the dozen songs on this recording:

"Whooping Crane" talks of all the ecological blessings we've lost from species to drinkable water and natural elements.

"Keep it in Your Pantry" is Lovett at his punny best. Folks on Weight Watchers should probably avoid this song.

"Loretta" is a homage to Townes. Everyone's covered this song from Norah Jones to Steve Earle. I'd say Townes is smiling over this love ballad to his Eternal Girl.

"It's Rock and Roll" is another song about the music business. Probably every artist has one somewhere and many have been recorded.

While this is not my very favorite Lovett recording, I still think it's a great addition for any Lovett fan.

Rebecca Kyle, October 2009
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on October 27, 2009
This is an album mostly made up of songs by other songwriters including Townes Van Zandt and Vince Bell. There are a couple of originals though, like the excellent title track, and some co-written tunes, like the suggestive 'Choke My Chicken' and the bluegrass 'Keep it in Your Pantry'. If you've thought, like I have, that Lyle was running out of new ideas on the songwriting front recently, this can only be a good thing. And since he has the knack of making even a song you know well sound like something HE wrote, it generally is a good thing.
Take 'Sun and Moon and Stars' for instance. It took me a while to realise where I'd heard it before. Fans of Nanci Griffith will no doubt remember it from her 'Late Night Grand Hotel' album though it was written by Vince Bell. It suits Lyle just fine and reminds you he's actually a pretty good singer. Other songs, like 'Whooping Cranes' were made for Lyle's style of delivery, and anything by the iconic Townes Van Zandt is bound to fit him like a glove.
The two standout tracks for me are the title track and the superb 'Bohemia', which has a cool, jazzy, sassy groove to it. The sound on this album is a bit different to the sparse, spacious sound on some of his records by the way. It's more up front, more lively, more fun. Lyle, who barely raised his voice above a croak on the last album, sounds confident and strong on here.
So I'm liking this more than Lyle's recent output and rate it pretty highly. I do think I might soon tire of the repetitive 'Keep it in Your Pantry' (there's a second, better, acoustic version of this on the record too) and the joke may soon wear thin on 'Choke My Chicken' but on the whole I have few complaints.
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on December 28, 2009
This CD is not cohesive in flow. It flings the ear back and forth from ballad Lyle to rocker Lyle, from brilliant song writing to mundane (Choke my chicken? What were you thinking?). I found it hard to listen to.
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on March 16, 2014
One of Lyle Lovett's best - a great deal of variety, touching and quirkly lyrics, and Lovett's wonderful voice. Lovett definitely speaks his mind - from the whimsical "Pantry" (keep it in your pantry) to haunting title track, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite Lyle Lovett albums.
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on October 19, 2009
This album finally recorded Natural Forces and an acoustic version of Pantry. These songs are great live and I've been lucky enough to see them a few times. Good, genuine, interesting, meaningful, and fun music. If you're already a fan, get this, if not, try it out and see. I'll add more after I've had time to listen to the whole album a couple times. Thank you Amazon, for giving us this early and also giving us a great deal.
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What an excellent album! Lyle Lovett fans are gonna like this! Lyle is at his very best and there's a great selection of songs on this album. He has fine arrangements for these tunes, too; and that enhances them all the more. Lyle possesses a rare talent for performing at a very high level; and this CD proves it. The quality of the sound is first-rate, too; and I love that artwork.

There really isn't a dud in the bunch here. "Natural Forces" has Lyle singing and that musical arrangement is lush without taking the spotlight away from his vocals--impressive! "Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel" is totally awesome; Lyle--or any other artist--couldn't have done this any better! Now THIS is high quality control music.

"Pantry" is excellent country; Lyle makes this seem so easy but of course we know it really isn't all that way--Lyle's talent carries him through. "Whooping Crane" has a beautiful arrangement and Lyle does this with all his heart and soul--I love it. "Bayou Song" and "Bohemia" are very well done; I like "Bohemia" in particular. Give it a listen! It's easily a major highlight of the album.

"Sun and Moon and Stars" has Lyle in the spotlight; and that guitar arrangement is very creative and special. "Loretta" is quite memorable and "It's Rock and Roll" will stay in your mind for quite some time after you hear it. The CD ends strong with Lyle Lovett performing an acoustic version of "Pantry;" this sounds just splendid.

Lyle Lovett fans are really getting a fine treat here; and this is so good it's also a great starter CD for people new to Lyle Lovett's artistry. I highly recommend this stellar album.
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on February 16, 2010
Hardcore LL fan, looking for this to be more than it was. While Lyle is always entertaining, this isn't a bad cut. Don't miss adding it to the LL collection if you have one, but don't look for it to dazzle you either.
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on May 16, 2012
Natural Forces is perhaps his best studio album since The Road to Ensenada. With lots of catchy songs including the title track and the fun FarmerBrown/Chicken Reel complete with chicken sounds to the thinly veiled food as a metaphor for sex song Pantry, there's plenty to make you smile and tap your feet. The Townes Van Zandt song Loretta showcases some beautiful harmonies between Lyle and acoustic guitar talent Keith Sewell. Additional backing instrumentalist Sam Bush and Stuart Duncan contribute some great bluegrass flavor to make for a delicious Texas country album. All that and Lyle's laid back vocals anchored by Russ Kunkel's solid drumming make this a real Natural Force to be reckoned with.
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