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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 16 April 2013
I first heard a Steve Earle track almost 25 years ago.

From the first moment I heard that voice I was hooked - and now a quarter of a century later, after all the booze, the drugs, the jail time and the many many marriages he's still here and still able to make me stop and listen for 45 minutes.

This collection of songs is quite possibly his best yet - the voice, the emotion and the stories that underpin all he does now is apparent form first track to last. this isn't going to get any radio airplay in the uk at all but it will be a permanent fixture on car mp3 player for the forseeable future.

I haven't watched the dvd yet and I don't have the ability to play the high def audio copy on the dvd but as they added only a a few pence to the cost they have to be worthwhile buying.

21st century blues is my standout track - love it.

Classic Steve Earle, Simply brilliant.
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on 15 April 2013
I felt that whilst the last album he made with T Bone Burnett had some strong songs on it, they were all very similar in feel and kind of blended into each other. Making a "road" record as Steve describes it forced Steve to make a more instinctive record here and his fans are rewarded with probably the most musically versatile he has made in ages. Its always hard to assess where a Steve record will rank, he isnt capable of making a bad record although I do feel that the last album for the reasons I expressed was a bit lacklustre.

The album puts you in the unique position that only a major songwriter like Steve would put you in , where your favourite track changes almost daily. The power of good music is it catches up on you so initially hearing "Invisible" I was underwhelmed safe to say I love the song now , a song that deals with how you might feel as a homeless person. Steve will never claim to be a saint but he does write about things that matter to the common man the last song is a heartfelt plea to his very young son John Henry Earle for him to "Remember Me" as with Steve being a father in his fifties he deals with the fact that he may not see his son grow up.I think this may be the only song that may not work for some people, at least not straight away but the sentiments he expresses are sincere. John Henry also has autism another fight for the Earle's.

As soon as you hear the first chords of "Low Highway" where Steve imagines himself in the Depression, you know you are in for treat, and there are also songs that rock like Calico County or Is that All Youve got? (sang with his beautiful wife Alison Moorer)or Down the road (Part 2) to more heartfelt songs like "Burning It down" , After Mardi Gras and Love's Gonna Blow My Way are very different to anything he's tried before with a beautiful violin weaving itself in and out of both songs, as is the piano chord driven Pocketful of Rain- these songs best exemplifies how Steve was trying new things on this record. Warren Hellman's Banjo is less than 2 minutes long and sees him revisit the bluegrass roots we loved on "The Mountain". 21st Century Blues is the most "political" he gets and is it a political song in the usual sense you get With Steve, or just him expressing that we live in a world gone wrong?

This record has helped me rediscover Steve's music as I went back and listened to some older records that believe it or not never hit me that much on first listen namely Jerusalem and The Revolution Starts Now. Its a wonderful record and with his son Justin Townes hitting us with a new record later on this year to be a fan of the Earles is a very rewarding thing.
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on 16 April 2013
My expectations for a new Steve Earle recording is that it's simply Earle being Earle. As much as he enjoys flights of fancy, love songs, and songs honoring family and friends, he equally cannot tear himself away from injustice, hardships, and acknowledgements of the frailty of our lives - and especially his own.

As an audience it's possible to become somewhat used to things simply being excellent, so much so that we can forget just how good Earle is. His consistent output is such that pre-ordering once a new disc comes up is a reflex action on my part.

This recording covers the usual canvas, from the disenfranchised to simple melodies and messages. The other musicians are used subtly, but careful attention to the backing track reveals the details nicely.

Writing "this is Earle being Earle" m ay sound like damning with faint praise, but the fact is he has defined himself long ago, and is simply plowing the furrow in ever more deliberate ways. And so consistent is his work that you could choose this, or any other of his recordings, as an introduction.

The CD comes in a Digipac that folds out into three panels. The booklet contains full lyrics. The "Special Edition" includes a "Making of" film, and a music video on a DVD. However, the real bonus is a high resolution copy of the album in 24/96.
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on 16 April 2013
I downloaded this to see and I will now do the right thing and buy this. If an album is good I like to buy the real thing.Its had 3 listenings tonight and grows on you each time. Thanks Steve. A great collection of tunes. You havent finished yet.
A special songwriter that keeps on keeping on.
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on 25 April 2013
I've been a fan of Steve since I purchased Guitar Town when I had a lot less grey hair. I got this album from Amazon a couple of days ago and it's been played, played, played and played again. It's such a great album and right through to the last track a songbook of true delight.
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on 2 May 2013
An outstanding album, as one can rightly expect of Steve Earle. Worldly worn and worldly wise, politically astute and acerbic, can rock your friggin' socks off, passionate and romantic.

A song that has been given quite a bit of attention from this latest release is 'Burnin' It Down' where Earle imagines torching a Wallmart store. Whilst the sentiment is angry enough, there is a beauty in the song itself and a resignation in the empathised rationale for the act which tempers the idea somehow. What I mean is there's more pathos in the `why' of the thought than considering the violence of the act.

Allison Moorer adds great harmony, and accordion, to the slight TexMex of 'That All You Got'. This, 'Love's Gonna Blow My Way' - with violin by Eleanor Whitmore - and 'After Mardi Gras' are a trio of fine songs written by Steve for his appearances as a character in the equally fine New Orleans-set TV drama 'Treme'.

Earle's weary Texas drawl is such a distinctive sound, and when he talks low and painfully through 'Invisible' - a song about being itinerant/dislocated/disconnected - there is such an authenticity it hurts. This quality is heightened with the album closer, the genuinely emotive 'Remember Me', a song Earle has written for his baby son, John Henry, as he a father of 58 anticipates the inevitable separation his age will cause so much earlier than he would have wanted. It could be a maudlin moment, but the honesty with which Earle has always written and sung his songs wrests this excellent one from that possibility.
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on 11 May 2013
On the one hand I am 'the converted' as in 'preaching to', but on the other hand I have many years of Steve Earle for comparison purposes. What I really like about this album is it's lack of immediate impact and obvious depth. It's an album that repeated listens peel away the layers so the enjoyment is richer. The opening track feels just like an opening track - a foretaste of what's to come, but without revealing too much. It's followed by the rowdier, buzzing Calico County that feels to me like the rollicking road song it probably is. Burnin' it down turned up on a Uncut magazine sampler before I bought the album proper and I have to say it gave me endless fun and laughter playing it to people and trying to work out what the hell Steve's lyrics were. Frankly much of it is unintelligeable, but you get the message about returning to his home town and wanting to burn down the local Walmart. That all you got feels just a little to me like 'better write something for the wife to duet on, and as such is reminiscent of other better son. But 'Love's gonna blow me away' is a classic. Uptempo, sounding familiar yet not, and with some great fiddle work. If that's Steve's first co-write, I wouldn't mind one or two more. I presume the next three tracks are the New Orleans trilogy, hidden depths to be uncovered.Warren Hellman's Banjo could definitely have fallen off 'The Mountain' before Down the Road Pt2 follows. The last two tracks are repeat players yet totally different.21st Century blues bemoans the lack of progress to the cartoon future of flying cars etc that Kennedy promised before the gorgeous closer of 'Remember Me' - surely a personal song by Steve as the older father to his son Justin. I really love this album and the DVD is a great bonus.
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on 16 April 2013
Any songwriter that can weave "teleporters" into an anthemic song which has a great twang sound and makes it believable is worth listening to right? Just listen to 21st Century blues!
Seriously strong album with an excellent spread of styles and influences
Steve Earle is a consistent writer but this album is better as a whole than a few of the recent releases
Buy it
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on 29 April 2013
Have listened to this about half a dozen times (on my tedious daily commute) & after just the 2nd play, found myself singing Remember Me - what a beautiful song. Couple of other things struck me: intro to Calico County reminded me of the beginning of something on Washington Square Serenade, but without playing all of WSS I can't figure out which track; bits of Love's Gonna Blow My Way put me in mind of Willie Nelson's take on Irving Berlin's Blue Skies (go figure that one!); there's a line about ghosts (in Calico County again maybe?) in a song that brought to mind The Mountain. The overall feel for me reflected Burnett's influence still -in a good way. Looking forward very much to the gig in May, & despite a wealth of new material, my fingers are firmly crossed for a Billy Austin encore, like we had at the Royal Festival Hall a few years ago. Harley is sorely missed from this series of Treme, too! Carolyn Middleton, Aberdeen, Scotland
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on 2 June 2013
Steve Earle has in recent years has gone back to the bare bones basics with great success. As you would expect from one of America's music's great songwriters. Steve is a master when comes to writing in the narrative prospective. The characters in his songs are by in large the common every day people we meet in our oh so real lives. This is a skill he has horned over the years. This album sees a return to Steve's pre - 9/11 form. The Low Highway is a work that is as stunning as the diversity woven into it's fabric. In many respects it marks Steve returning to where he left off with 2000's "Transcendental Blues." Like "T.B's" this is an album that act like a collection of short stories told against the back drop of modern day America, with his trademark cinematic scope employed. If you have not connected with Steve in recent years. This is the album by which to re-connect. If you seek any further convincing. well before you part with your hard earned cash. Take a few moment to seek out and wonder at the video for Steve Earle's "Invisible." Then give your ears a treat and take a journey along "The Low Highway."
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