With more than 20 years as a recording artist, Steve Earle is one of America's most acclaimed & respected singer/songwriters. All four of his ESquared/Artemis studio albums have been Grammy nominees, with his production of Lucinda Williams' Car Wheels nabbing best Contemporary Folk Album. Now Earle returns with his most topical record to date. Much of The Revolution Starts Now is written like a newspaper, with impassioned political protest songs like the title track, "F the CC", & "Condi, Condi" (written for our National Security Advisor).
Earle rushed The Revolution Starts ... Now
to stores ahead of the 2004 presidential election, and given that timing and the songwriter's righteous lefty stance, the disc's topical content should surprise exactly no one. Even still, it's light on invective, allowing Earle's deftly drawn characters to make his points for him. Plainspoken people swept up by larger events, they include the truck-driving protagonist of rig-rocker "Home to Houston," who dodges rockets while running supplies in Iraq, the disaffected vet in "The Gringo's Tale," and the American soldiers and Palestinian boys whose lives run parallel in "Rich Man's War." At times, Earle is less artful, and the going gets patchy: the title cut is a guitars-blazing call to arms, but "Warrior" (a ponderous spoken-word piece that apes Shakespeare), "F the CC" (a ragged denunciation of culture cops), and "Condi, Condi" (a faux-reggae mash note to Condoleezza Rice) don't hold up as well. Interestingly, the less-pointed material finds the cantankerous crusader at his best, as on the aching Emmylou Harris
duet "Comin' Around," a late-night barroom blues called "I Thought You Should Know," and the hopeful closer "The Seeker." There, Earle slips in one last, subtle message: "There's a new day tomorrow and maybe I'll hold, something brighter than gold to a seeker." --Anders Smith Lindall