Read our feature interview with Steve Earle where the great songwriter opens up about his ongoing battle with addiction, as well as politics and facing up to death.
Steve Earle's new album once again has him out on the road, looking at America from the outside as he drifts from place to place and takes notice of what's in between. His new album The Low Highway, is a fine addition to his already impressive collection of road songs and political laments.
Earle is nothing if not ambitious, and willing to try new things. In recent years, on top of a steady schedule of touring and recording, he's published a novel, started work on a memoir and appeared on television as a narcotics anonymous sponsor on the much-loved HBO series The Wire, and as a street musician on the critically acclaimed Treme (where you could see him playing tracks from the new album). For all that experimentation, The Low Highway finds Earle back in familiar territory.
He writes in the liner notes, "I’d wager that the last song I ever sing in this world will be low and lonesome and contain at least one reference to a thoroughfare of one sort or another."
[PLAY] Steve Earle's The Low Highway, out on April 16.
This stream has now ended, but you can still listen to "Calico County," a song that Earle says is a direct response to his monster hit from the '80s, "Copperhead Road."
Add it to your playlist on Steve Earle's CBC Music artist page.
Since he burst onto the scene at the head of an outlaw country revival that helped usher in today's alt-country and Americana sounds with his 1986 classic Guitar Town, the highway has been a feature player in Earle's music. Throughout his career, songs like "Guitar Town," "Someday," "Steve's Last Ramble," "Telephone Road" and more have focused on the desire to bug out of your hometown for the open spaces — a kind of unbreakable momentum that keeps you from building a life once you're out there, or the desire for and difficulty of finding a true home.
The album starts with a country-folk look at an America in decline with the title track, "The Low Highway." We are introduced to a stuck-in-his-life meth dealer in the rocking "Calico County," and a homeless man feeling all the worse for being ignored in "Invisible." "Love is Gonna Blow My Way" takes a riff from the standard "Blue Skies" and turns it into a jaunty anthem for the hopeful drifter. "Pocket Full of Rain" has a piano line that wouldn't be out of place in a Ben Folds song, and for all its upbeat smoothness, it's the story of an addict who is managing to stay on the straight and narrow.
The album ends with "Remember Me," a direct address to Earle's young son, and a lamentation from a late-in-life father that he may not get to see his child grow up.
Earle has earned his reputation as one of the most consistent and compelling songwriters out there. Have a listen and let us know what you think in the comment section below.
CBC Music's alternative country stream
Steve Earle's homepage
CBC Music's country classics stream
New West Records
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