Lyle Lovett “Release Me”

Posted 14 Mar 2012 in Albums of 2012, Albums of the 10s, Americana


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#653 in the Series) is Lyle Lovett, Release Me 

So many people say that there just aren’t any good new albums coming out these days.  Usually they’re the same people that just aren’t looking in the right places. If all you listen to is classic rock and hear the same 15 bands over and over you might indeed think that.  I felt 2011 was a darn strong year and 2012 is starting off quite nicely as well, thank you.

The new music release season is really just starting now as acts get new material out so they can tour when they weather is nice and warm.  I loved the new Little Willies album from last month and now the new Lyle Lovett is out and I have another great new album to listen to. They fit well together actually.

I remember hearing his first two albums, Lyle Lovett and Pontiac, back in the late 80s.  I would have loved to ask him if he thought that there would have been any chance that 20 some years from then that he’d be releasing new work with musicians like Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, Sam Bush, k.d. lang, Sweet Pea Atkinson and Sir Harry Bowens as part of the mix.  It’s an incredible growth story for a musician that represents a styling that actually doesn’t get all that much airplay. Do the rock stations play this? Maybe the coolest of the cool ones will. Do the country stations play this? No, Lyle doesn’t wear a cowboy hat 24 hours a day or a wool beanie. You don’t want to even get me started on country radio anyway. No, Lyle just puts out great music and through word of mouth and some help with television guest appearances has seen his popularity and respect grow to the point that many of today’s top musicians want to be part of his music. Heck, Kunkel has actually been part of his band now for many, many years.

This album kicks off with a killer version of a traditional instrumental bluegrass tune called “Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom.” I haven’t heard Lyle pick some straight traditional bluegrass before so I liked the idea of him going in this direction. It’s quite welcome.

I’m surprised at the number of covers on this record. I’m not only surprised at the large amount of them, but the titles that he chose as well. I guess you can feel that might be where he’s going through when the title cut is a cover. That would be the Ray Price classic “Release Me.”

“White Boy Lost in the Blues” is a Michael Franks song that I’d forgotten about. The next song up is my favorite.  “Isn’t That So” originally done by the great Jesse Winchester.  This has always been a favorite so when you have a chance to get Jesse’s music back on the radio that’s a good thing. How ‘bout a little “Rumba Man” next time around Lyle?

Check Berry’s “Brown Eyed HandsomeMan” is often covered and was a huge country hit for Waylon Jennings in his early, early days. I’ve never heard a version like this before however. This is a much slower, personal sounding take. The story in the song is still just as great and actually now more front and center.

Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner Blues” is getting some play early from this batch. It’s the one he’s chosen for television appearances. “Dress of Laces” you first heard if you’re a Nanci Griffith fan.

The album concludes with a wonderful musical version of Martin Luther’s Hymn, “Keep Us Steadfast.”  It’s a great conclusion to a great album.

It should be noted that this album was rushed out by Lyle to fulfill a contractual obligation and hence the many covers.  His contract with Curb ends with this release. I must say that if that true you can’t tell at all. It’s crisp, well played and the batch of songs are all either well written or well chosen. If that’s true I ask this question. If an artist is going through the motions just to get the album out would there be 29 musicians listed on the credits? I don’t think so. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

–Larry Carta

Track listing

  1. “Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom” – 3:06
  2. “Release Me” – 2:45
  3. “White Boy Lost in the Blues” – 3:32
  4. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – 3:17
  5. “Isn’t That So” – 4:50
  6. “Understand You” – 3:43
  7. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” – 3:36
  8. “Keep It Clean” – 2:36
  9. “One Way Gal” – 2:59
  10. “Dress of Laces” – 6:13
  11. “The Girl with the Holiday Smile” – 3:57
  12. “Night’s Lullaby” – 3:25
  13. “White Freightliner Blues” – 5:06
  14. “Keep Us Steadfast” – 2:45


  • Lyle Lovett – Guitar, Vocals
  • Sweet Pea Atkinson – Vocal Harmony
  • Sir Harry Bowens – Vocal Harmony
  • Luke Bulla – Fiddle, Vocal Harmony
  • Sam Bush – Mandolin
  • Vincent Ciesielski – Trumpet
  • Jim Cox – Piano
  • Stuart Duncan – Fiddle
  • Kat Edmonson – Vocals
  • Paul Franklin – Steel Guitar
  • Willie Greene, Jr.  – Vocal Harmony
  • John Hagen – Cello
  • Ray Herndon –  Guitar, Vocal Harmony
  • Viktor Krauss – Bass
  • Russ Kunkel – Drums
  • k.d. lang – Vocals
  • Steve Marsh – Sax
  • Arnold McCuller – Vocal Harmony
  • Dean Parks – Guitar
  • Buck Reid – Steel Guitar
  • Matt Rollings – Piano
  • Charles Rose – Trombone
  • Keith Sewell – Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Vocal Harmony
  • Leland Sklar – Bass
  • Harvey Thompson – Sax
  • Mitch Watkins –  Guitar
  • Sara Watkins – Fiddle, Vocal Harmony
  • Sean Watkins – Mandolin, Vocal Harmony


Give a listen …

Here’s more new releases for you to read about

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Posted by Larry Carta

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