Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Album review: Steve Earle's 'I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive'

April 25, 2011 |  6:39 pm

S-EARLE-OUT-ALIVE_240_ When Steve Earle sings “Didn't know that I was gonna live this long, now I'm sitting on top of the world” in his new album's opening track, “Waitin' on the Sky,” you can't help but think truer words have rarely been sung.

With a bio that's often read like a tragic country song, the Texas singer and songwriter has pulled his act together in recent years and regained a lot of the footing he'd lost after starting out so promisingly a quarter-century ago as one of the most acclaimed young writers of his era.
After saluting his hero and friend Townes Van Zandt with mixed results on his 2009 album “Townes,” Earle is back to relying on his own pen in one of his strongest collections of songs, full of sharply etched observations on mortality, faith, the dirty side of politics, lust and murder, superstition and hard-won love.

Producer T Bone Burnett and his ace crew of musicians help Earle with masterful skill and deft subtlety. Earle's voice, reduced not too many years ago by his hard-living ways to a shredded rasp, is capable once again of a full range of expression, from outrage to wonder. The next time someone references F. Scott Fitzgerald's line “There are no second acts in American lives,” we can respond with two words: Steve Earle.

— Randy Lewis

Steve Earle
"I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive"
New West
Three and a half stars (Out of four)