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T Bone Burnett

Twenty Twenty: The Essential T Bone Burnett – 2006 (Sony Legacy)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by T Bone Burnett

Before he made a name for himself through producing acts like Los Lobos and Ralph Stanley, T Bone Burnett established himself as a respected performer with the Alpha Band. Thus, he's released a 40-track career overview that contains many of his best works, beginning with the Alpha Band and leading up to his more current work. He's able to express an obsession with icons like Marilyn Monroe ("Fatally Beautiful, a cover of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"), yet also sincerely explore God's love ("River Of Love" "Power of Love"). Stylistically, he's touched upon country ("No Love At All"), fractured folk ("The People's Limousine"), and multi-lingual pop ("Image").

In stark contrast to so many TV evangelists, who are too often quick to point fingers at all the sinners in the world, Burnett does not ignore the log in his own eye. Such blunt self-examination is exemplified by "Criminals." And rather than condemn his fellow man, he prefers to reach out the hand of help ("Shake Yourself Loose").

It's been said that retrospect makes for 20/20 vision, but this fine sampling of Burnett's older work, along with his brand new effort, shows that he is one songwriter who has always had nearly perfect vision.