Review: Steve Earle Gives His Mentor Extra Adulation
Steve Earle/Jerry Jeff/new west
Four out of five stars
Beyond his insurrectionary attitude, Steve Earle never failed to wink at the artists and friends who marked him throughout his career. Two albums containing songs written by deceased friends – Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark in particular – offer tributes to early compatriots and collaborators. With jerry jefit completes a trifecta in tribute to Jerry Jeff Walker, a singer-songwriter who was one of the first artists to help popularize the genre known as “outlaw country”, a style that Earle himself adopted very early.
He’s definitely used it to his advantage, especially when it comes to his own standards, ones that include “Guitar Town”, “I Ain’t Ever Satisfied”, “Copperhead Road”, “The Revolution Starts Now” and ” Transcendental Blues,” among them. A three-time American Grammy winner and inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, he says he’s learned his lessons well.
In fact, Jerry Jeff fits Earle’s now signature style perfectly, as underscored by the fact that the opening track “Gettin’ By” is preceded by his spoken introduction; “Hi buckaroos, Steve Earle again…” the attitude is also synonymous, especially when it comes to songs like “I Makes Money (Money Don’t Make Me)”, “Hill Country Rain” and the Walker’s most famous piece. , “Mr. Bojangles,” which Earle utters with a sort of gruff growl, belying the tender tone shared in a number of previous renditions.
That’s not to say Earle chooses to completely deny the sentiment. “Little Bird” and “My Old Man” are full of tender tones, and even “Charlie Dunn,” though celebratory in its stance, can’t hide the affection Earle obviously feels for the ticked character name in the title.
Therefore, jerry jef serves the purpose well by shining the spotlight on an artist who deserves greater attention in the American arena. Earle’s efforts to share his songs will hopefully contribute to that added appreciation.
Photo by Danny Clinch/Mixed Media Works