Steve Earle, 'Townes' (New West)

Critical Mass
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by Jon Young

Ignored by record buyers, the late Townes Van Zandt was beloved by colleagues, including Steve Earle, who named his son Justin Townes Earle to honor the Texas troubadour. While Earle's brawny attack might seem ill-suited to Van Zandt's wistful angst, he does his idol justice on this vibrant covers set, delivering supersonic bluegrass("White Freightliner Blues") and starry-eyed ballads ("[Quicksilver Dreams of] Maria") with the same thoughtful finesse. "Lungs," produced by Dust Brother John King, corrupts Van Zandt's music with electrified noise -- and works beautifully.

Listen: Steve Earle, "To Live is to Fly" (DOWNLOAD MP3)

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