Release Me, Lyle Lovett's not so subtle message to his record label, counts as his last release on Curb Records. After 27 years, Lovett wanted out...
This is an album of mostly covers. A couple of these tunes appeared on Lovett's recent Christmas collection. On Release Me, Lovett renders songs by Townes Van Zandt, Eric Taylor, Jesse Winchester, Chuck Berry and others. Lovett always remained difficult to categorize, but his song selection and craft allowed him to follow his own musical instincts. I always like his humble demeanor, musical tastes and a kinship with Hunter S. Thompson.
Release Me opens with the traditional hard-core bluegrass instrumental "Garfield's Blackberry Blossom". There's no doubt this collection contains a diverse and vibrant blend of musical styles...delivered with a sneer. The title track adheres to the classic country framework--great version here.
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" veers towards a lounge jazz avenue. "Isn't That So"--a Jesse Winchester song--explores a R & B, horn-laced territory. "Understand You" emerges as a pretty acoustic ballad. Lovett alters Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" into a slow convincing blues tune.
A Lovett original, "One Way Gal", spins a back porch yarn about a girl you somehow just can't trust. Lovett amps up on this rollicking version of Townes Van Zandt's classic "White Freight Liner Blues". "Keep Us Steadfast" ends Release Me with a spiritual piano ballad. Lovett ended an era of his career with this album, and it's obvious he's moving onward toward a new horizons. I look forward to the next chapter...