Out today is Steve Earle’s heartfelt tribute to his friend and mentor, Townes Van Zandt, and it’s a full-length must-play for fans of either or both of these immensely compelling singer/songwriters. Earle approaches this revered material unsentimentally, with all of the edge and passion he puts into his own songs—clearly the best possible way to honor enigmatic tracks such as “Pancho and Lefty,” “Where I Lead Me” or “Lungs,” which was produced and mixed by the Dust Brothers’ John King and features electric guitar work by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.
Other guests on Townes include Earle’s wife Allison Moorer singing backing vocals on “Loretta” and “To Live Is to Fly.” Earle and his talented son Justin Townes Earle take turns spitting out lines on “Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold.” So, it’s a no-brainer: intense, powerful vocals; authentic, artistic songs; and an ensemble of stellar, like-minded musicians (Dennis Crouch, Tim O’Brien, Darrel Scott and Shad Cobb) who add dimension to every track.
Must Play: “Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold”
Producers: Steve Earle, John King. Engineers: Steve Christensen, John King, Ray Kennedy. Studios: Earle’s home studio (NYC), Sound Emporium, Room and Board (both in Nashville), The Nest (Hollywood).