Unfortunately, despite my solid ten seconds of reckoning, hee-hawing, and fiddle-faddling, I cannot think of any way in which this album is a metaphor for any part of my recent trip to Mexico. How about that!
This is Steve Earle’s (or “Early Steve” as he is usually called by his family) second album, and it suffers from a fairly typical syndrome topical to second albums, or second years, or second books. It seems somewhat analogous to relate to a certain year of college or university, but seeing as no such saying exists, I’ll have to call it “second album syndrome.” Let the word spread throughout the land!
Ah, yes. The old saying goes that an artist has the first twenty or whatever years of his life to write his first album/book/diatribe, but only a year to make the second. Thus, the second is much weaker. Alternately, maybe said musician is a drug addict who has trouble getting it together enough to make something competent. Hey, either way. This album is distinctly less fun than the first album, as well as far more reliant on silly typical country song topics. It also has outright filler, unlike the first album which had a big stinker amidst a bunch of good songs. Here there are nondescript songs that flit on by blahly.
It’s as if Early was restarting his career as a far less interesting artist. A good one, sure, but never a great one and often a meh one. Can you believe The Simpsons invented that word? I can, because I read it on Encyclopedia Dramatica. It sounds tired, Steve yelling trying to sound excited doesn’t sound convincing.
Speaking of which, I just went through airport security and they examined my pocket and found a die with exponents of 2 on all sides and they looked at me funny. Also, here’s a sad story that just happened: I bought tequila at the duty free leaving Mexico City, but on my connecting flight I wasn’t allowed to take it as carry on, even though it was still sealed in its packaging and everything. And I don’t fly with checked luggage! So I either had to pay $10 and forgo having my bag available or lose the $12 bottle of tequila…and I had to lose the bottle. For nothing. Wah! I’m now in the air from Dallas to Toronto. Back home. Sigh.
Okay, so for example, the opening song here, “Nowhere Road,” is musically a rip-off of the last album’s opening song, and it has a less interesting lyric. The second song could be aptly described as a “ditty,” and it’s about having a neat car, and it’s forget-worthy. The third song is a solemn faced acoustic guitar, steel guitar, and freaking orchestra sad song about a guy remembering how he was a football star in high school, but without noting any of the inherent sadness in all the “glory days” reminiscing! No good, Steve!
Then the rest of the album picks up a bit, but the hooks are lacking. There’s nothing here that’d be even the fourth-best song on “Guitar Town.” And the last song is a six-minute long piece of filler. It’s called “It’s All Up To You”… And that’s all it’s about. It says nothing other than that “it” is up to “you,” and this over a long time without doing much musically. What’s the best song on here? It might be “Nowhere Road,” but as mentioned that’s musically unoriginal. “I Ain’t Ever Satisfied” does create a sympathetic character, but it’s all through generic country things – being born by the railroad track, daddy leaving early, et cetera. “I Love You Too Much” has the album’s biggest earworm, but it’s just a silly love song that doesn’t give you anything to remember besides the chorus’ niggling Elvisy hook. This album is more adventurous musically than the last, with backup vocals and strings and lots more organs, but I have a hard time caring. And since this is another short album, I’ve already covered nearly every song.
So fuck it. This album isn’t actually good.
4 / 10