The Road to Ensenada

The Road to Ensenada

You get the feeling that The Road to Ensenada won the 1997 Grammy for Best Country Album because it contains so much more than country. There are layers of gospel, western swing, soul music, jangle-pop, blues, Sinatra-influenced balladry, and New Orleans–style jazz. For a guy who manages to do so much, Lovett never sounds strained. In fact, his suave presence is what anchors all of Ensenada's ideas. It’s a full-bodied album, presented with the celebratory panache of a concert performance. The easiest way to describe Lovett’s art is to state the obvious: he's a stylish man. He knows how to wear clothes, and he knows how to wear styles. That’s why a tale of true love in the Deep South is played as a bossa nova in “Her First Mistake.” It’s how he can write a story about the essence of loneliness and regret and title it “Christmas Morning.” All of its musical wit converges on “That’s Right,” which became his signature song and something of a new national anthem (delivered with a wink) for people who hail from the Lone Star State.

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