Lyle Lovett – Release Me (2012)

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If you know anything about Lyle Lovett, the tongue-firmly-in-cheek title of his forthcoming release — his last for Curb Records, the only label he’s ever recorded for — will come as no surprise.

Neither will the fact that, by pure force of intellect, personality and humor, the Texas singer-songwriter is able to mold what can only charitably be called an odds-and-sods collection of leftovers and thematic left turns into something approaching a recommended purchase.

But, Lovett does. Due on February 28, Release Me is a frankly disjointed collection of genre-stumbling tracks — taking in country, pop, jazz, bluegrass, holiday chestnuts, gospel and the blues. Yet the very unpredictable nature of this set seems to work in favor of the rail-thin king of quirk.

Listen as Lovett positively leaps out on the opening string-band hoedown “Garfield’s Blackberry Jam,” downshifts into the twilight romanticism of “Night’s Lullaby,” expertly duets with k.d. lang on the country-standard title track, turns Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” into a comfy downhome promenade, swipes a groove from Stax on Jesse Winchester’s “Isn’t That So,” storms through Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner Blues” like a truck driver with worn-down brake pads, settles into a finger-licking Delta groove for “White Boy Lost in the Blues,” then joins Austin native and former American Idol contestant Kat Edmonson for a winking take on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

Taken together, it doesn’t make a bit of sense, of course. Perhaps Lovett and only Lovett, with his ten-gallon sense of sardonic melancholy, could somehow smooth those jagged transitions. As he heads off toward the wide open spaces of indie-dom, we figure that actually bodes well.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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