One Track Mind: Steve Earle, “Invisible” from The Low Highway (2013)

Steve Earle, as is his way, gets beneath the bromides and the easy assumptions about the homeless, in a harrowing new song that digs out the hard-won scraps of remaining pride.

With “Invisible,” Earle examines the full sweep of their struggle, from the holes in their shoes to the demons that chase them down abandoned side alleys, without ever resorting to cliche, without ever talking down to them — and he does so within an appropriately raw-boned instrumentation.

The nervy strum of a guitar, the lonesome cry of a steel, the shattered — and shattering — sound of his double-tracked voice, all of it works in concert to present a picture as complete as any short story, and one just as filled with resonant detail.

Too, and this is an increasingly rare case of artistic symbiosis, the accompanying video actually adds dimension to a narrative that’s already unfathomably deep — illustrating just how easy it has become to blithely walk past this burgeoning problem.

“Invisible” is part of Earle’s forthcoming album The Low Highway, due April 16, 2013 from New West Records.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.