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Steve Earle

Jerusalem – 2002 (Artemis)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Steve Earle

It's a shame that "John Walker's Blues" is the song getting all the attention here because it's easily the weakest track on an otherwise strong album. Steve Earle's attempt to get inside the mind of the "American Taliban" doesn't yield any explanation for the guy's actions other than he was pissed cuz he's not as cute as the guys in N'Sync.

On his long road from "Guitar Town" to "Jerusalem," Earle has always demonstrated integrity and has worked hard for prison reform. He deserves the benefit of the doubt, so probably the only reason Earle cares about this idiot is because he's now behind bars. Let's hope so, cuz if not it's a pretty cheap publicity ploy.

Much more attention-worthy are the protest anthem "America v. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do)" wherein Earle blasts (among other targets) modern complacency ("I remember when we were both out on the boulevard talkin' revolution and singin' the blues/Nowadays letters to the editor and cheatin' on our taxes is the best that we can do") and the hymn of artistic creation "The Kind" as well as the lo-fi prison blues "The Truth."

Two standouts: the lone non-political song "I Remember You" a hauntingly beautiful duet with Emmylou Harris about dealing with lost love (a chick song, as Earle calls them and a darn good one) and the title track which finds Steve Earle actually hopeful about the possibility of peace in the Holy Land.