The Austin Chronicle

SXSW 2015 Records

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, March 20, 2015, Music

Steve Earle & The Dukes

Terraplane (New West)

Primarily known for his unpolished brand of country rock, Steve Earle remains a Renaissance man. From a passable attempt at bluegrass to penning an imaginative novel featuring Hank Williams' ghost, the Central Texas-reared rambler follows his muse wherever it travels. Terraplane, Earle's blues LP, might separate the everyday followers from the true believers, however. It's not that the blues remain a hoary form beyond resurrection. He and the Dukes, including Austin's Chris Masterson on guitar and Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle, attempt an impressive range of styles in the genre with aplomb. Yet, with a couple of exceptions, Earle's songwriting never reaches the peak of his previous work. Drive-By Truckers via Rolling Stones rip "Go Go Boots Are Back" bears a sure-handed yet unrefined stamp, but an attempt at conjuring the devil and/or Robert Johnson on "The Tennessee Kid" comes across as a forced cross between ZZ Top and Ray Wylie Hubbard. The special edition DVD hosts three unaccompanied back-porch songs sure to interest the aforementioned true believers. (Sat., 9:20pm, Paramount Theatre)


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