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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naked Bones of a Better Day
As I rolled on down the low highway.

So sings Steve Earle in Low Highway (the song), painting a picture of tumbleweed and dust in millennial America.

Saw empty houses on dead end streets
People linin' up for somethin' to eat
And the ghost of America watchin' me
Through the broken windows of the factories

It's a raw picture...
Published 20 months ago by Andrew Schonbek

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Low Highway
Probably will have to "grow" on you as you listen to it. I would put it lower that Guitar Town and Copper Head Road albums.
Published 18 months ago by jack88@PCB


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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naked Bones of a Better Day, April 16, 2013
This review is from: The Low Highway [CD/DVD Deluxe] (Audio CD)
As I rolled on down the low highway.

So sings Steve Earle in Low Highway (the song), painting a picture of tumbleweed and dust in millennial America.

Saw empty houses on dead end streets
People linin' up for somethin' to eat
And the ghost of America watchin' me
Through the broken windows of the factories

It's a raw picture and a bleak one that grabs you and won't let go. As far as I'm concerned this album's gotta be some of Steve's best work, right up there with El Corazon, Copperhead Road, and Jerusalem...

He goes on,

Met a man with a rifle in his hand
Been away to battle in a distant land
Taught him how to hate and taught him how to kill
Now he's out on the road with a hole to fill

Next up, Calico County presents a chillingly evocative portrayal of the strung out world of a meth amphetamine junkie...

Born in a double wide out behind the county dump
Mama never told me why daddy didn't live with us
Only picture I had he's climbin' on a prison bus
Stencil on his back said Calico County

And then, Burnin' It Down, about a guy in a pick up truck, contemplating fire bombing the local Wal Mart. This scary image is wrapped in a bittersweet melody as the would be arsonist laments, "Now I'm getting old no place else to go / And it's all come unwound".

Steve's band is exceedingly tight as testifies to the time they've spent touring together on the road. The music moves seamlessly from folk to country to rock to blues and back to bluegrass and doesn't miss a beat. In so doing, it fleshes out the portrait of America that's established in the lyrics. Elanor Whitmore's fiddle is particularly haunting, and at times will almost make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

After this incredibly dark and desolate journey 21st Century Blues (the second to last song on the CD) deadpans, "It ain't the future that Kennedy promised me / In the 21st century".

But amazingly, Steve manages to wrap the whole thing up on a positive (if somewhat sentimental) note in Remember Me, written to his four year old son:

But there'll come a day when you're all alone
And you'll have to stand up on your own
And when it's muscle and blood and bone
Remember me.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steve Earle keeps getting better and better..., April 16, 2013
This review is from: The Low Highway (Audio CD)
Steve Earle & The Dukes & Duchesses
"The Low Highway"
(New West, 2013)

One of the founding fathers of the Americana music scene, Steve Earle has this amazing knack for producing one record after another where I hear it and go, Oh man, that's his best one ever! These days he's really on a roll: his 2008 Townes Van Zandt tribute was beautiful and complex, while 2011's "I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive" was even more searching and richly textured. And now... Steve Earle's recorded his best record ever... again!

The album kicks off with the bouncy, bluegrassy title track, a twangy acoustic echo of Woody Guthrie giving way to a windswept landscape of soft fiddle and pedal steel. From there, Earle leaps into crunchy, grungy electric guitar rock on "Calico County," the catchiest power-pop song about cooking meth you're likely to hear all year. As the album progresses, each track takes on its own unique feel, and each one is equally alluring. Backing him is his tour band, the The Dukes & Duchesses, which includes Earle's wife, Alison Moorer, who adds some nice harmonies. Earle's rumbling, soulful vocals may remind many listeners of the legendary Dr. John, while a strong counterpoint is provided by the excellent fiddle work that laces through the record. The loose, inventive improvisations reminded of the fluid performances of actor/violinist Lucia Micarelli who co-starred with Earle on HBO's Treme tv series: sure enough this album includes three songs that Earle and Micarelli co-wrote for the series, although it's duchess Eleanor Whitmore who bends the bow on this album... and man, is she good! An excellent record, the kind you'll find yourself cycling through time after time, soaking up a a variety of melancholy moods, with melodies that can echo in your head for hours. Highly recommended. (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue Guide To Country Music)
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64 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Woody Guthrie takes another hard look at America, April 16, 2013
This review is from: The Low Highway (Audio CD)
The head of a New York-based arts organization recently asked me to suggest a musician who might perform a few songs at its annual benefit.

I recommended Steve Earle.

For several reasons. He has a new CD. He's a mesmerizing, charismatic presence. And in live performance -- let's just say you would not want to be sitting in the front row, drunk, with the mad idea that it would be cool to heckle this guy.

In short: a dream of a suggestion.

It was quickly rejected.

"The feeling of my colleagues is: We'd like someone more ... literary," I was told.

Excuse me? Steve Earle is a folk poet with a world-class reputation -- he's the successor to Woody Guthrie, with 15 CDs in his catalogue. And he's omni-talented: He's written a novel, stories and a memoir.

Not literary? Oh, I understand. That's code for: He sports a bin Laden beard, dresses in jeans and flannel shirts, and finds four-letter words suitable for all occasions. He's an actor... in "Treme," the HBO show set in New Orleans. And he's been married a stunning seven times. ("You can't say I lack commitment," he jokes.)

No, not literary like, say, Leonard Cohen. To steal his phrase, he's a "hard core troubadour." And The Low Highway is the latest chapter of that story.

Here's Steve Earle talking about his America, the inspiration for his new CD:

"I've been on every interstate highway in the lower forty-eight states by now and I never get tired of the view. I've seen a pretty good chunk of the world and my well-worn passport is one of my most prized possessions, but for me, there's still nothing like the first night of a North American tour: everybody, band and crew, crowded up in the front lounge, eating Nashville hot chicken and Betty Herbert's homemade pimento cheese, swapping the same tired old war stories half shouted over the rattle and hum of the highway. And I'm always the last one to holler good night to Charlie Quick, the driver, and climb in my bunk because to me it feels like Christmas Eve long ago when I still believed in Santa Claus. God I love this."

"Nashville hot chicken and Betty Herbert's homemade pimento cheese" -- you get the idea. This is a guy with stories. And a wish to tell them. And right from the start he had the ability to tell them with blunt eloquence.

There are fans who look to Steve Earle for his willingness to urge progressives to the barricades. They'll love "Low Highway." But that's not to say agitprop is his goal. His greater skill is to look hard at where we are -- an empire being run into the ground by fools and thugs -- and still see hope for people of intelligence and good will.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At the peak of his form, April 18, 2013
By 
M. Dynarski (New Jersey USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Low Highway [CD/DVD Deluxe] (Audio CD)
Having Steve Earle go back to his buddy and long time producer partner Ray Kennedy has helped. Some tracks of 'Never Get Out of the World Alive' were exciting but overall I thought the production by T-Bone Burnett was flat and uninteresting. In contrast, Ray's production leaps right off the vinyl (which is audiophile quality too). And the range of styles, spanning folk, bluegrass, country rock, blues and even old time is remarkable, reminding me of why Steve's other masterpieces like 'I Feel Alright' and 'El Corazon' never stay too long in the unplayed pile. There is just so much music here.

I already had heard Invisible, Remember Me, Low Highway, and Burning It Down at one of Steve's recent solo concerts, and it's clear that the Dukes and Duchesses add a lot to the overall mix (I especially like Chris Masterson's guitar licks, which would not be out of place at a rockabilly concert in the fifties). Not that the solo stuff is weak--hardly, the songs are too good--but the instrumentation adds energy and depth. And rockers like Calico County show that at age 58, Steve still can play a wicked electric riff that would make Keith Richard smile. I can't recall hearing in Steve's repertoire a sound like the jazzy piano of "Pocket Full of Rain,' but it's exactly what powers the song and makes it sound so cool.

But the searing 'Remember Me,' about probably not seeing his three-year old son through to adulthood (as he said in concert, 'I did the math') is the kind of personal statement that the best songwriters wrench out of themselves. It's hard not to be affected by it, testament to an artist still working at his peak.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steve Earle's The Grapes of Wraith, March 20, 2014
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This review is from: The Low Highway [CD/DVD Deluxe] (Audio CD)
Steve has taken a hard look at America in the "The Great Recession" which never seems to end. A bit of the anarchy of the Sex Pistols (although it be acoustic) in Thinking About Burnin it Down, the fever of the Clash in Calico County, the wisdom of Dylan and Woody Guthrie throughout the cd. The perils of morality in Remember Me (a song about his 3 year old son with Steve's age may not live to see grow up. From the discarded people of the Low Highway and Invisible he invokes Guthrie and Dylan. Guthrie having living through the Great Depression and Dylan attempting in his early years to imitate Woody. Showing true human kindness in Warren Hellman's Banjo where a former Wall Street trader gave his money and time to helping people. Open your ears, eyes and hearts listen to the people is his basic message which have suffered to long at the hands of greed and the Devil.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trust the Twang Trust, May 1, 2013
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This review is from: The Low Highway (Audio CD)
I feel like I've waited over a decade for Steve Earle to make an album this good again. Inspired by his work on the (extremely underrated) show, Treme, and working with his Twang Trust, he's put out a solid set of songs, probably his best since the high water mark of The Mountain, El Corazon, and (my personal favorite) Transcendental Blues.

Steve Earle has written theme albums for a while now. Political (Jerusalem, The Revolution Starts Now) and a personal tribute to his friend and idol (Townes), an ode to his adopted home city (Washington Square Serenade), the them this time is, broadly speaking, the road. Hitting the highway and seeing what's out there, good and bad. The aforementioned albums contain many great songs, but most contain some clunkers, too, or at least some mediocre fare. The Low Highway doesn't have any big misses - even if it doesn't have a knockout punch, either. Instead, it's a solid album from start to finish.

It isn't necessarily a criticism, but I do think that these songs will be even better live. They have a feel about them that just demands to be experienced in a live environment. I don't feel the same way about the masterpieces I mentioned before - those are great live, but they're also extraordinary recordings that totally work as recorded albums. On The Low Highway, "21st Century Blues" is a good song, but it's really meant to be banged out in a room full of thousands of people, this recording seeming just a bit insufficient.

Along with the excellent songwriting, the violin (should I say fiddle?) is the star of the show here. I think that's the main aspect that makes this album stand out from Earle's past few. Overall, I think Earle's fans will be pleased.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the Best, April 18, 2013
By 
William Sutton (San Antonio, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Low Highway (Audio CD)
Steve Earle continues a great string of albums with the music on 'The Low Highway'. I'm a long-time fan who had my interest in him rekindled with his appearances on the HBO series 'Treme'. After seeing him at a small Texas club in 2011 and after listening to his previous cd, 'I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive', I'm convinced he's the greatest American Troubadour living. If I had a negative comment about the newest release it would be that it reminds me a little too much of the previous one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good...but not his best., June 5, 2014
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This review is from: The Low Highway [CD/DVD Deluxe] (Audio CD)
I'm a huge fan of Steve's...I have every album, every book and every DVD and Bluray release..I have seen him a dozen times in concert...I have met him in Nashville at River Front Park. The Low Highway is just one of those albums that I just cannot listen to very much. However, I'll buy anything Steve releases. Do yourself a favor and locate two albums by the V Roys...Steve produced this amazing band back in the '90's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Low Highway, June 16, 2013
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This review is from: The Low Highway (Audio CD)
Probably will have to "grow" on you as you listen to it. I would put it lower that Guitar Town and Copper Head Road albums.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What can I say, April 22, 2014
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This review is from: The Low Highway [CD/DVD Deluxe] (Audio CD)
Steve Earle has got to be one of the great singer/song writers in the music industry.Dosn't quite rank up there with Bob Dylan or Neil Young but he is able to paint pictures with his music that put you right there.His insperation,Towns Van Zant,as I said"What more can I say
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The Low Highway [CD/DVD Deluxe]
The Low Highway [CD/DVD Deluxe] by Steve Earle (Audio CD - 2013)
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