Washington Square Serenade
Steve Earle is one of the most reliable (and one of the best) of singer-songwriters - a little bit country and a lot Creedence Clearwater Revival rock and roll. On this, his twelfth studio album, Earle veers not one jot from the ground where he's been comfortable.
Washington Square Serenade follows Earle's move to New York with his wife, singer Allison Moorer, and, bar a rather poor take on Tom Waits' Way Down In The Hole, this is all good Steve Earle, if rather safe. Only on Red Is The Color does Earle find his bluesy best, where electric mandolin and harmonica are underpinned by thunderous drums to great effect. Better than its predecessor, the rather-too-angry The Revolution Starts Now, this album enjoys the same assured songwriting of Earle's best albums of recent years, I Feel Alright and Transcendental Blues, while referring to earlier works (Tennessee Blues' leaving Guitar Town refrain speaks beautifully to his move to New York). He has always shone in duets, and Days Aren't Long Enough, with his wife, is gorgeous. While some way from his best, there is enough for Earle fans to keep the faith - his lyrics still read like great American prose, and the songs show a deft touch.