This is an album mostly made up of songs by other songwriters including Townes Van Zandt and Vince Bell. There are a couple of originals though, like the excellent title track, and some co-written tunes, like the suggestive 'Choke My Chicken' and the bluegrass 'Keep it in Your Pantry'. If you've thought, like I have, that Lyle was running out of new ideas on the songwriting front recently, this can only be a good thing. And since he has the knack of making even a song you know well sound like something HE wrote, it generally is a good thing. Take 'Sun and Moon and Stars' for instance. It took me a while to realise where I'd heard it before. Fans of Nanci Griffith will no doubt remember it from her 'Late Night Grand Hotel' album though it was written by Vince Bell. It suits Lyle just fine and reminds you he's actually a pretty good singer. Other songs, like 'Whooping Cranes' were made for Lyle's style of delivery, and anything by the iconic Townes Van Zandt is bound to fit him like a glove. The two standout tracks for me are the title track and the superb 'Bohemia', which has a cool, jazzy, sassy groove to it. The sound on this album is a bit different to the sparse, spacious sound on some of his records by the way. It's more up front, more lively, more fun. Lyle, who barely raised his voice above a croak on the last album, sounds confident and strong on here. So I'm liking this more than Lyle's recent output and rate it pretty highly. I do think I might soon tire of the repetitive 'Keep it in Your Pantry' (there's a second, better, acoustic version of this on the record too) and the joke may soon wear thin on 'Choke My Chicken' but on the whole I have few complaints.
It's probably not possible for Lyle Lovett to make a bad record. He has decades of experience, bags of talent and a superb band . As with Emmylou Harris one can buy a Lyle Lovett CD knowing it will invariably reach a high standard of musicianship, the unknown factor will be style and feeling of the album, not its quality.
This one is elegant and graceful and a wonderful, imaginative mixture of joyfulness and tenderness. Stand out songs are Whooping Crane, Sun and Moon and Stars and Natural Forces, which are wistfully elegaic and possibly some of the most beautifully crafted of his career(although picking any song by Lovett as being his " best " is darn near impossible)