Steve Earle – Transcendental Blues

Back to business as usual, and that’s the whole problem here. I’m pressed for time, so let’s sum things up: Like fifteen songs, all of them pretty good, none of them awful and none of them great. A variety of styles and a variety of subjects, but nothing at all standout. So it’s just a nice enough country rock album. “The Galway Girl” might be the only time you convincingly hear a Southern country rocker pulling off a lilty Irish love song.

There’s not much self-expression, thankfully not much experimentation musically, and no boring songs to slow things down. The only exception to most rules is the acoustic self-expressive awful closer, “Over Yonder (Jonathan’s Song)”. A poor man’s “Billy Austin,” it removes the best parts – the ambiguity, instead of drawing an unsympathetic character on death row, this time the death row resident is faultless and seeking forgiveness from god and pats the listener on the head and points them where to go. Plus it’s wrong about the whole afterlife thing.

But mostly it’s a good album. Just a good album. Nondescript in its decency, it glides along well while it plays, and when its done I’ll file it away and take little from it.

6 / 10


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