Lyle Lovett Succeeds Outside Country's Boundaries
And while the song's protagonist doesn't quite achieve the blues authenticity he aims for, Lovett's band stings, with sawing fiddle and burning electric guitar. Lovett's reading of Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" is similarly bluesy, but where Berry's rendition is all bluster, Lovett takes it slow and low.
His voice trembles just a little as he sings "The judge's wife told the district attorney you better free that brown-eyed man." It's a rock 'n' roll tune done as a heartbreaker.
On the title track, Lovett teams with another songwriter who proudly flies in the face of some of the genre's confines, k.d. lang. Characteristically for their playful nature, it's one of the album's most traditional moments, a classic cheating ballad with weeping pedal steel and Texas Playboy fiddles.
"I have found a new love, dear / And I'll always want her near," the duo harmonizes. "Release me, darling / Let me go." It's a near perfect tune, suave and restrained.
Release Me, like the rest of Lovett's oeuvre, might fall more in line with the Prairie Home Companion aesthetic than the CMT one, but his catalog is a testament to country sounds that don't cling too hard to the idea of what "country" has to be.
Like today's country radio dominators, Lovett has open ears and a wide gaze. Don't build that fence too quick, or we risk losing guys like Lovett who know how to do it right.
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