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Lyle Lovett - Release Me (2012)

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Lyle Lovett
If you know anything about Lyle Lovett, the tongue-firmly-in-cheek title of his forthcoming release—his last for Curb Records, the only label he's ever recorded for—will come as no surprise.

Neither will the fact that, by pure force of intellect, personality and humor, the Texas singer-songwriter is able to mold what can only charitably be called an odds-and-sods collection of leftovers and thematic left turns into something approaching a recommended purchase.

But, Lovett does. Due on February 28, Release Me is a frankly disjointed collection of genre-stumbling tracks—taking in country, pop, jazz, bluegrass, holiday chestnuts, gospel and the blues. Yet the very unpredictable nature of this set seems to work in favor of the rail-thin king of quirk.

Listen as Lovett positively leaps out on the opening string-band hoedown “Garfield's Blackberry Jam," downshifts into the twilight romanticism of “Night's Lullaby," expertly duets with k.d. lang on the country-standard title track, turns Chuck Berry's “Brown Eyed Handsome Man" into a comfy downhome promenade, swipes a groove from Stax on Jesse Winchester's “Isn't That So," storms through Townes Van Zandt's “White Freightliner Blues" like a truck driver with worn-down brake pads, settles into a finger-licking Delta groove for “White Boy Lost in the Blues," then joins Austin native and former American Idol contestant Kat Edmonson for a winking take on “Baby, It's Cold Outside."

Taken together, it doesn't make a bit of sense, of course. Perhaps Lovett and only Lovett, with his ten-gallon sense of sardonic melancholy, could somehow smooth those jagged transitions. As he heads off toward the wide open spaces of indie-dom, we figure that actually bodes well.

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