Lyle Lovett’s Release Me Releases Him From Contract With Curb

CD Review
Title: Release Me
Artist:  Lyle Lovett
Label: Curb/Lost Highway
Released: February 28, 2012
Stars:  3.5

Release Me is Texan singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett’s 15th album.  I remember playing Pontiac (1987) when it was first released over and over…couldn’t get enough of his saddle smooth voice, wry sense of humour, and superb medley of genres.  I followed him quite closely throughout the release of his following four albums (Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Joshua Judges Ruth, I Love Everybody, and The Road To Ensenada), and saw him in concert in Vancouver in 1995.  However, for some inexplicable reason, he fell off my radar for quite a while and I’m not familiar with the music he made after 1996.  I guess I was missing him.  After giving Release Me a good listen I remember why I loved him so much.

While Release Me doesn’t mean as much to me as the previous recordings I mentioned, as Lovett mostly covers other people’s songs here, it does have a few gems among its generous 14 track listing, that span from dour to droll, as well as a couple of Christmas songs which were, truthfully, a bit mystifying.  The CD’s black and white artwork features Lovett looking forlorn, standing on a country dirt road, bound by a very long piece of rope which is more than likely a metaphor for the place he now finds himself in his career.

Release Me opens on an upbeat note with a rollicking country instrumental reel highlighted by Luke Bulla’s fiddle called “Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom”.  Immediately your toes start tapping and they don’t stop as it segues into the title track, “Release Me”.  The country classic is interpreted by Lovett and k.d. lang, but for all intents and purposes is one of two throw away tracks on the album in my humble opinion.  I’m a big fan of k.d. lang too, but this is neither lang’s nor Lovett’s most memorable performance.  However, I’m completely captivated by “White Boy Lost In The Blues”, a sexy, cool blues number with harmonies by Arnold McCuller and Dean Parks’ slick electric slide guitar.  It’s my favourite track and I could push repeat on my iPhone and listen to it all day long!

Track 4, which I thought was a little out of place and could be classified as another one to toss, (though it’s certainly not bad) is the jazz standard, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, a Christmas duet with Kat Edmonson.  Later on in the album (Track 11), Lovett offers up his own Christmas song, “The Girl With The Holiday Smile”, a New Orleans style, boogie-woogie about a hooker in a grocery store.  Love it and will most certainly add it to my holiday playlist, but still can’t understand why he’d put Christmas songs on an album released in February.

Lovett is no stranger to the relationship blues and we hear more about them in the pretty and poignant ballads “Understand You” and “Dress of Laces”, a heartrending murder epic featuring harmony vocals by Sara Watkins.  He’s always been a master storyteller as well and spins more familiar yarns with “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” and “One Way Gal”.

“Night’s Lullaby” is exactly that, a lullaby with backing vocals by Sean and Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek) while “Keep It Clean” is a Traditional standard arranged by Lovett featuring upbeat jazzy blues with whimsical, jaunty lyrics.  “Isn’t That So” is exceptionally good swinging, soulful blues that scream classic Lovett and is another favourite of mine on the album along with “White Freightliner Blues”, a frenetic country blues duet with Keith Sewell & Luke Bulla, written by Townes Van Zandt and featuring some fantastic drumming by Ross Kunkel.  Release Me closes with the gospel piano ballad, “Keep Us Steadfast”, written by Martin Luther featuring Luke Bulla on harmonies, but it’s a track I could have done without as I’d rather the album ended on a more exulted note.

Singer-songwriters as intelligent and charming as Lyle Lovett are as rare as white tigers, but I prefer to hear him sing his own songs.  Regardless, I’ll love Lyle’s style forever.  Release Me is definitely worth listening to and it’ll be interesting to see what he does as a free agent, now that his contract with Curb has ended and a new chapter is waiting to begin.

Live Wire Music Series Ends The Season With Ottawa’s Brilliant Lynn Miles!

Live Wire Music Series is finishing the season with one of its all-time favourite musicians, Ottawa’s brilliant Lynn Miles. Lynn has won countless awards including a Best Female Vocalist Juno in 2003 and a Canadian Songwriter of the Year Award in 2010.  She will be accompanied by another great Canadian musician, Prairie Oyster’s Keith Glass.  Opening the evening will be Ottawa musician Lynne Hanson, whose newest CD “Once The Sun Goes Down” has had much critical acclaim across North America. 

Live Wire Music Series presents:

Lynn Miles with special guest Lynne Hanson

Friday, May 4th – 7:30 pm
Octave Theatre, 711 Dalton Ave., Kingston
Tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door

Available now at Brian’s Record Option (613 542-2452) and Tara Foods

Lynn Miles ~ www.lynnmilesmusic.com

“With her crystal-clear voice and an insightful songwriting style, Canada’s Lynn Miles is one of the most acclaimed singer/songwriters to cross the border since Joni Mitchell.” – Dallas Morning News 

“Lynn Miles’ startling insights about bad choices and desperate needs in songs like “Wrong” and “Rust” make her a captivating performer.” – USA Today

“Lynn Miles delivers it all with an every-woman expressiveness in a voice that combines Lucinda Williams and Shawn Colvin.  Her poetic, insightful portrait of the human spirit – upbeat despite its difficult honesty, is truly inviting.” – Tim Roland, The Tennessean

“Lynn Miles makes being forlorn sound like a state of grace.” – New York Times

“Canadian songbird Lynn Miles sings lusciously…smart lyrics abound as she expounds on love lost and gained, sketched with dark hues and rising tempos.” – Billboard Magazine

Lynne Hanson ~ www.lynnehanson.com

2010 Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award winner
2009 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee New/Emerging Artist
2009 Kerrville New Folk Finalist
2008 Mountain Stage New Song Regional Finalist

“[Once the Sun Goes Down] certainly is a remarkable piece of work … Hanson is a superlative craftswoman … her fabulous voice is clear as a bell.”  John Conquest, Third Coast Music, Austin

“Killer third by Canadian songbird…more in common with the assured touch of Gillian Welch or Lucinda Williams. “Riptide” could easily be the best song Welch has yet to write”. – UNCUT (UK)

Live Wire Music Series Presents New Country Rehab & Sheesham and Lotus on April 13th!

Another great Live Wire show is coming up!  New Country Rehab, who put on one of the best shows ever at the Rankin Gallery last year, is coming to town on Friday, April 13th at the Octave Theatre in Kingston.  If you haven’t experienced New Country Rehab yet, you are missing something fabulous.  They are absolutely one of the most inventive and exciting bands anywhere right now.  And that’s not all!  Sheesham and Lotus, a highly entertaining duo, will be opening the show.  It’s going to be a great night at the Octave!

Friday, April 13th, 7:30 pm
Octave Theatre, 711 Dalton Ave., Kingston

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door (if available), and include all applicable taxes. Advance tickets are available at:
•       Brian’s Record Option – 381 Princess Street, Kingston – 613-542-2452
•       Tara Natural Foods – 81 Princess Street, Kingston

On Friday, April 13th, the Live Wire Music Series is pleased to present New Country Rehab, one of the most exciting alt-country bands in Canada right now, fresh from their recent blockbuster European tour, where wowed critics compared them to The Band, Mumford and Sons, and even The Allman Brothers.

Take Canada’s hottest fiddle player, a guitarist who evokes Tom Morello and Kevin Breit, a percussionist who grooves on sawblades as readily as he does cookie sheets, mix together with one of the most versatile double bass players in Canada and you get New Country Rehab. With John Showman, James Robertson, Roman Tome’ and Ben Whiteley, the band’s unique outlaw indie country sound channels Hank Williams Sr. as much as Arcade Fire to create a spectacularly exciting new music.

“The guys everyone wants in their band, in a band!” ~ Tom Power, CBC Radio

Opening for New Country Rehab will be Sheesham and Lotus, the enormously entertaining purveyors of old-time American music, whose multi-instrumental shows have gained them a legion of fans across Canada.

As I said, it’s going to be a fantastic night, so see you at the music!

Kirsten Jones Nominated For A CCMA Award!

I am so fortunate to be able to work with some exceedingly talented Canadian musicians and singer-songwriters, including Ann Vriend, Kelli Trottier, Sultans of String, Shari Ulrich, Jennifer Gasoi, and the fabulous Kirsten Jones!

Kirsten recently shared this news with her friends and fans in a newsletter and I am so proud of her that I would like to share it with you too!  Congratulations Kirsten!!

“Hello everyone!

I couldn’t be happier to share this great news with you – I just received a nomination for Roots Artist of the Year from the Canadian Country Music Awards.

There is no way this could have happened without YOU.  Some of you have helped in huge ways (years of friendship and support) and others in small ways (simply joining this mailing list).  But all of these actions – big and small – have kept me going on a daily basis and have paved the road to this award nomination.

I am most excited about this because it is one of the only national platforms for Americana/Alt Country artists in Canada.  Most are straight folk or country awards – and it’s a little bit of a “square peg in a round hole” situation for artists like myself.  So this is a real honour and a dream come true.

Thank you so much for all your help, support, love, purchases, and good vibes.  You can check out all the other CCMA nominees and other details about the upcoming awards at www.ccma.org.

My sincerest thanks,
Kirsten”