By Mike Dunn
Steve Earle & the Dukes – Guy
New West Records
Guy Clark certainly had a way with hooks. Steve Earle & The Dukes put every swing in Clark’s words on Guy, their tribute to the folk legend, with tasty drums and big bass that shuffle in time with Earle’s phrasing. There’s a dance to be had in Clark’s songs, and a lived in story in every one of his lines.
Clark was a master heartbreaker and “Desperadoes Waitin’ On A Train” stands nearly alone in that regard; the story of the bonds between youth and mentors with no detail in hiding. In “The brown tobacco stains all down his chin” or “Wondering ‘Lord has every well I drilled gone dry,” Clark is unflinching in the colours he uses, painting a window into how hard men live and grow old. The deathbed handshake of “Come on Jack, that son of a bitch is comin’” brings the heartache to a gentle close.
Earle sings Clark’s songs ragged, feeling like one live shot of songs he’s known for 50 years. His voice provides a close up with the weariness of his own 64 years, being the last of three good friends who spent their years trying to write the best songs in the style they pioneered.steve earle