CD tip: "Guy" by Steve Earle & the Dukes

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Steve Earle & the Dukes

To me, whenever Earle saddles up his oustanding Dukes, it's time to rock in viciously great, take-no-prisoners fashion as per "Copperhead Road" and "Guitar Town." But Earle is also a traditionalist who regards his younger years as a real-life apprentice to folkier songwriters/geniuses like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt as hallowed experiences wherein camaraderie and art comingled and flowed like cheap draft beer in a country roadhouse. A few years ago, Earle released a tribute album of the late Van Zandt's tunes. Now, with the death of Clark, he gathered the Dukes to pay similar homage. Don't expect clever new arrangements but rather settle in for resonant, engaged versions in which the listener can hear Earle's astonished and grateful appreciation of the vast scope and mastery of songcraft. It's tough when your heroes die; if you've been lucky, like Earle, to have worked with and learned from them, this is the best possible expression of gratitude and farewell.


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