Black Music Matters Festival

Lyle Lovett

The Road to Ensenada – 1996 (Curb)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

CDs by Lyle Lovett

The humor is thankfully intact. But what has returned is Lovett's country leanings. After straying further and further away from where he started, Lovett has made a welcome return.

That's evident from the very light-hearted opener "Don't Touch My Hat," an ode to "John B. only friend," amidst acoustic guitars and "Long Tall Texan,"a duet with Randy Newman where Lovett sings again of his 10-gallon hat. It is Lovett's writing that shines through here as usual. He may have skewed perspectives of life, but he challenges the listener to think about his musings. This isn't a straight country disc withLovett's typical jazz leanings ("Her First Mistake") and a combo of the two on the cute Texas swing stylings of "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)."

The production of Billy Williams and Lovett is superb with the emphasis on vocals, but retaining a free flowing atmosphere to the music. While some session vets play - Paul Franklin on Pedal steel and former Lovett sideman Matt Rollings on piano - they do not sound like hired hands.

Lovett historically has not been one to musically tread water, but let's hope this road keeps him firmly planted where he started. For awhile anyway.