I have always been intrigued by Steve Earle, but I had never actually bought one of his records before. On the good word of a friend, however, and because I was in the mood for some country that wasn't ashamed of its blues roots and wasn't afraid to rock, I decided to pick up Earle's latest, "El Corazon". Despite covering acres of musical territory, from quiet folksongs to bluegrass twang to straightahead rock, this record remains a unified, coherent piece of work that never abandons its country roots, but that isn't constrained by them, either.
Standout cuts include "Telephone Road", an acoustic rocker about a boy leaving home for the big city, "Somewhere Out There", a wistful mid-tempo number, "NYC", an aggresive collaboration with the Supersuckers, and the tender closing track "Ft. Worth Blues". "Poison Lovers" is the only track that doesn't ring true to me; it's flat and over-produced, like much of the music coming out of Nashville these days.
If you like such No Depression groups as Wilco, Whiskeytown, or Son Volt, you will love this recordthese groups can only hope that they are making music this vibrant and alive at this point during their careers. Even if you don't generally like country, you might want to give this record a chance; it's a good guitar record, plain and simple.