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Steve Earle, ‘Washington Square Serenade’ (New West)

Now a New York resident, Steve Earle announces, “Good-bye, Guitar Town,” on “Tennessee Blues,” the first track of his 12th studio album. But even with added hip-hop textures (courtesy of Dust Brother John King), Serenade hardly signals a break from the singer/songwriter’s folk-country roots — he’s reworking his own territory here. Which is why we expect the song about sweaty illegals to have a better twist ending than “All of us are immigrants,” and the tune about meth addiction to feel more, well, lived in. Luckily, as he shows on “Days Aren’t Long Enough” and “Sparkle and Shine,” the man can still write a damn pretty love song.

Now Hear This: Steve Earle – “City of Immigrants” STREAMING MP3