Lyle Lovett: Natural Forces

RIYL: Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Robert Earl Keen

In a world where multi-tasking has become the norm, credit Lyle Lovett with stirring up his musical mantra and effortlessly veering from genre to genre while avoiding the stigma of being typecast by any one style in particular. Once categorized solely as a country singer due to his heart-worn sensibilities, Lovett’s allowed big band, pop, gospel and blues to find equal fits in his repertoire, to the point where his current live shows and recent spate of LPs make equal allowance for all.


Natural Forces proves no exception, but while the big band and western swing elements secure their place in the mix (especially as illuminated by the two disparate versions of the saucy put-down titled “Pantry”), resilient ballads and aching laments dominate the proceedings with a focus on tender emotions. Opening the album with the rugged title track, Lovett conveys a weary cowboy narrative with a humbled but determined point of view. The traditional country hoedown “Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel,” the rollickingly autobiographical “It’s Rock and Roll,” and a vampish “Bohemia” provide his customary levity, yet the clouds part only momentarily. “Bayou Song,” “Don’t You Feel It Too” and “Sun and Moon and Stars” find Lovett crooning from a wounded perspective, one that pleas for redemption and perseverance. “The blues just keep coming and drying out your eyes / And don’t you think I feel it too,” he moans, making the hurt seem almost palpable.

Ably assisted by his usual cast of veteran collaborators – drummer Russ Kunkel, guitarist Dean Parks, fiddle player Stuart Duncan, and pianist Matt Rollings, among them – Lovett offers up another example of why he remains among the most knowing contemporary crossover artists of our generation. Flawlessly instinctive, Lovett steers Natural Forces as effortlessly as the title implies. (Lost Highway 2009)

Lyle Lovett MySpace page


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