Like his predecessors Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett worked the Texas folk circuit and sold songs to bigger names before getting the chance to cut his solo debut in 1986. It’s a soulful, plainspoken work, just short of austere. “Cowboy Man” and “Why I Don’t Know” prove that Lovett understood what folks in the country dancehalls wanted to hear. But his gallant presence and understated sincerity keep his material from getting tacky, even on the somewhat out-of-place pop-rock nugget “You Can’t Resist.” Lovett’s voice—as dry and smoldering as the Texas highway and as dashing as a freshly pressed tuxedo—does best on the numbers that allow for a slow build. “God Will,” “If I Were the Man You Wanted," and “The Waltzing Fool” approach the form of the love song in a way that has nothing to do with clichés or double entendres. His mastery is shown in the way he notices things that other songs would omit entirely. This skill is epitomized by “Closing Time,” which portrays everything that happens at a concert after the music stops.