RS #482: Steve Earle – Guitar Town


Steve Earle, Guitar Town

Release Date: 1986
Previously Owned: No
First Time Listen: Yes
Steve Earle, Guitar Town
Steve is going to go to town on that guitar.

Impressions:  Modern country isn’t exactly my bag, but over the years I’ve grown to appreciate older country stars like Johnny Cash & Patsy Cline, and so-called alt-country artists like Uncle Tupelo, but the sheen of modern Nashville country still bores me. I guess lots of these newer country stars just seem to me like they are doing lame arena rock dressed up with a “country” packaging. Steve Earle seems a little more earnest than these 10 gallon hat wearing pretenders, but we’ll see if this album wins me over. Here we go…Hmm, “Guitar Town” seems like a decent enough mid-tempo twangy cut, although I think sometimes Earle’s country singing-inflections don’t always hit my ears the right way. Probably years of urban ridicule in tv, comedy, and movies have possibly ruined country music for me. Earle’s got a mix of swagger, smarts, and skill that is impressive, in songs like “My Old Friend The Blues,” and the Elvis-ian throwback “Think It Over.” Overall,  a solid, polished platter of country/rock, occasionally affecting but the uninspired production softened the blow (never more evident in the the cheeseball lullaby “Little Rock ‘N’ Roller.”) Lyrically he’s a solid songwriter–who knows, maybe I’d like country a little more if it was in this vein– but the band never seems to elevate to anything but “capable.”

Starred Songs:  “Guitar Town,” “Good Ol’ boy (Gettin’ Tough)”
Sneaky Track:  “Think It Over”
Should this album be on the list? Toss up. It’s okay, but doesn’t really blow me away.
Replace With: I’d rather listen to an Uncle Tupelo’s “Anodyne” or Son Volt’s “Trace” even though they might not be considered as “great” as this album. Weird, huh?
Will you listen to this again?  Probably not.
Verdict: Solid-platter of country/rock, but I think I’d like this alot more if the music rose to the level of Earle’s songs or if my general immunity to country music was absent.
Rating: ★★★