Steve Earle's first record after emerging from artistic struggles, prison, and addiction, 1995's Train A-Comin'
finds an artist starting from scratch and returning to the very basics of his musical vision. The low-key, charming, all-acoustic support comes from veterans Peter Rowan
, Norman Blake
, and Roy Huskey, while Earle's original material dates as far back as 1974--he wrote "Mercenary Song," he notes, while still working at Ciraco's Pizza. The mix of covers--Beatles
, Townes Van Zandt
, and the "Jamaican hillbilly" of "Rivers of Babylon" (with Emmylou Harris
chiming in)--proves he had one primary listener in mind: himself. With no expectations thrust upon him, no labels involved, and very few at the time bothering to listen, Earle mined a raw gem. --Marc Greilsamer