Lyle Lovett: Concrete Cowboy

Lyle Lovett
Cover of Lyle Lovett

With a style blending country western, blues, classic American folk and rock influences, the only thing more distinctive than Lyle Lovett’s hair is his musical style.

Sporting a coif second in size only to TV’s Marge Simpson, Lovett has become one of the most recognizable and distinguished artists in modern music. Incorporating aspects from all elements of the rootsy American musical culture, though his music always draws heavily on Texas-based sounds. Whether playing folk, blues or pop, the dust of the prairie sticks to Lovett’s work, giving it a distinctly western sound.

Lovett Received a “Best Contemporary Folk Album” Grammy nomination for his double album Step Inside This House, a collection covers songs that proved to be highly influential on the songwriter. Not surprisingly, most songs originate from Texan songwriters, from Guy Clark to Walter Hyatt.

Switching gears on his latest album, Lovett turns his eye toward folk, with the downbeat guitars and laid-back bass lines of “Step Inside This House,” to the hint of raunchy blues on “Sleepwalking,” though Lovett’s butter-and-gravel voice, straight out of country music legend, gives the album a consistent feel. Like Lovett’s previous work, Step Inside This House links both the traditions of music history with innovation, a trait earning Lovett a place in both critics’ and fans’ hearts alike.

No stranger to the Grammy scene, Lovett has received four previous awards, including 1989’s Best Country Vocal Performance, Male for Lyle Lovett and His Large Band and the coveted Best Country Album in 1996 for The Road to Ensenada.

With Lovett’s eclectic influences playing a large role in his songwriting, he has managed to cut one of the most stunning profiles in modern country, by combining time-tested sounds in unique ways to craft fresh songs. In a period when most country performers emphasize glamour, glitz and formulaic sounds, Lovett stands apart from the crowd with conservative musical stylings emphasizing guts over flashy arrangements and quirky subject material over tried and true themes.

In fact, Lovett’s odd sense of humor sets him apart from most other country rockers. Lovett sports an at-times nearly psychotic penchant for dark humor, similar to that of Elvis Costello or John Wesley Harding. Like his unique take on music, Lovett’s themes reflect his striking individualism, neither playing up to standard topics nor cranking out knee-jerk humor, forcing listeners to be attentive to receive the full force of his songs.

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