Reviewed by Dan Oko, Fri., Sept. 3, 2004
Steve EarleThe Revolution Starts Now (Artemis) The Revolution Starts Now, just in time not only for election season, but also at a juncture when Steve Earle could use a shot of musical redemption. Since getting sober, Schertz, Texas' favorite son, has produced the best music of his career, but lately affairs of state have been getting in the way of his songwriting. Despite a Grammy nomination, 2002's protest LP Jerusalem was bloated with humorless, self-righteous folk rock. Earle's latest is correspondingly a mixed bag, with almost every song recorded within 24 hours of being written, according to the liner notes, yet deliverance remains a kiss away. The good news is that Earle has rediscovered his funny bone, and with his guitar-slinging Dukes in tow, the self-proclaimed redneck lefty breaks into a wicked grin on several tracks. The trucker's ode "Home to Houston" finds him grinding gears in Basra, which is only funny until you think about it. "F the CC" channels the late, lamented Ramones, reminding us that "Dirty Lenny" died so we could all be free, while the reggae-inflected "Condi, Condi" pokes fun at our nation's national security advisor, though Earle veers dangerously close to racial and sexual stereotyping. After a promising start, the small town boy drops a couple of stinkers, including the predictable liberal lament "Rich Man's War" and the excretable "Warrior," a Doors-y spoken word piece in iambic pentameter (insert hoot of derision here). Sure, we're living in politically charged times, but Earle's Revolution warrants fewer rants and more transcendental blues.