Joe Ely Record Review

Panhandle Rambler (Rack 'Em)

Joe Ely Record Review

While a multitude of Joe Ely compositions evoke West Texas and the wide open spaces surrounding Lubbock where he learned his trade, Panhandle Rambler pulls up as a suite, an homage to that flat, dusty landscape and those who inhabit them. Having published a novel last fall, Reverb, and continuing to dig into his tape vault with a couple of commendable archive releases including a duet with Linda Ronstadt, he still found time to pen 10 of the 12 songs here. Given that the pair of covers rep Butch Hancock and Guy Clark, the staunch Austinite never stops keeping good company. "Wonderin' Where" sets the scene of a canyon filled with radio towers swaying in the wind and bringing the sounds that fuel dreams and prompt occasional nightmares. The two-steppin' "Here's to the Weary" tributes heroes like Woody Guthrie, Bob Wills, and Muddy Waters, whose nighttime music soothed souls "weary and restless." Set closer "You Saved Me," a love song to his wife Sharon although unnamed, is beautiful and stirring. Recalling past work, including one of his most famous tunes, "All Just to Get to You," it chugs along on slide guitar wails and Ely honoring all the good between them with a premium amount of heat. Recorded in Austin and Nashville with some of the best players from both cities – Lloyd Maines, Davis McLarty, Joel Guzman, Warren Hood, Rob Gjersoe, Dave Roe, Gary Nicholson, and Kenny Vaughan – Joe Ely brings the desolation of Texas plains to life in a manner that's profoundly inspired.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Review: Johanna Heilman, <i>When We Were Electric</i>
Review: Johanna Heilman, When We Were Electric
When We Were Electric (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, June 30, 2023

Review: Large Brush Collection & Creekbed Carter Hogan, <i>Split</i>
Review: Large Brush Collection & Creekbed Carter Hogan, Split
Tape of tender lullabies envisions a warm refuge for queer people

Wayne Lim, May 12, 2023

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017


Panhandle Rambler

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle