Steve Earle

Monday, May 11

At first blush, Townes—an album of Townes Van Zandt covers from Steve Earle—seems fairly obvious. After all, Earle—the outlaw roots rocker turned pinko folkie—learned the art of songwriting directly from the enigmatic Texas icon. But just as Dylan wound up sounding nothing like Woody Guthrie, Earle wound up sounding nothing like his mentor. Van Zandt’s words were expressions of the soul that took the form of country-folk poetry that was both wistful and devastating. Earle’s material, on the other hand, is less poetically sensitive and more tell-it-like-it-is blunt. Suitably, his delivery is like that of a barrel-chested attack dog, which is what makes his covering of Van Zandt's songs trickier than you’d think. But Earle’s brawny vocals and thick-thumbed guitar actually add something to Van Zandt’s oomph that’s akin to being punched in the chest. Townes is Earle’s way of saying: “This guy was the greatest songwriter on the planet. If you aren’t convinced yet, then wake the fuck up!”

Mon., May 11, 6 p.m., 2009

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