Titled after three sequential books in the Old Testament, Joshua Judges Ruth is an album of hard spaces and hard places. In comparison to the cabaret-style amiability of Lyle Lovett's previous album (Lyle Lovett and his Large Band), the music here is notable for its starkness. And within that, Lovett makes it soulful. Its nearest corollary in the world of pop music would be Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, which used vignettes of unremarkable people to express the infinite cruelty and sadness of walking through the world each day. In Lovett’s “Baltimore,” a parting between a mother and son is described in lines of utter tragedy: “And a woman lies upon the bed/I think she must be dying/And I recall the words she said/As she began to cry.” The music is played like skin hanging off the bone. But not everything here is so severe. In “Since the Last Time,” “You’ve Been So Good Up to Now,” and “Church,” Lovett implants his love of blues and gospel. Still, it's the delicate despair of “Baltimore” and “North Dakota” that makes this an album of the cold and open plains of the heart.
I've Been to Memphis
She's Already Made Up Her Mind
You've Been So Good Up to Now
All My Love Is Gone
Since the Last Time
She's Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To
Flyswatter / Ice Water Blues (Monte Trenckmann's Blues)