Lyle Lovett is one of the great mysteries of the world. How can the same man sport THAT
hairstyle, and have so much musical taste? It’s a tough task taking on a Ray Charles
number – even when it’s as straight a twelve-bar blues as What’d I Say
– but Lovett croons with Elvis-like assurance (and his backing chorus answers back
with the verve of The King’s Taking Care Of Business singers) over busy high hats and
cool keys work to make the trusty three-chord progression sound fresh and exhilarating.
Lovett’s coiffure and crooning combination may be an enigma, but there’s no
mystery as to where the heart of this soundtrack resides. From first note to last,
it’s full of trad country-blues that’s as polished as it is predictable. Some of
it, like Lovett’s performance, rises above its roots – much of it doesn’t.
But none of it lacks gloss.
Aside from Lovett, the best moments come from Jennifer Day, Shannon Curfman and the
album’s only stylistically maverick track – a funky duet from Joan Osborne and
Day’s Completely is the sort of instantly pleasing piano ballad that launched
Mariah Carey’s career into the stratosphere. With a chorus based on an ascending
figure (faintly reminiscent, also, of Lionel Richie), this pleasantly melodic pop outing
could well provide a launching pad for Day’s own career.
One of The Corrs’ typically inoffensive hits, So Young, can be found on this disc.
And "So Young!" – with astonished inflexion – is the only possible
reaction to teenager Curfman’s Few And Far Between, on which she showcases her guitar
and vocals mastery with the sensibility and virtuosity of a true blues veteran. Such a
shame she’s destined to live in Britney Spears’ superficial shadow.
A track titled Rowdy Booty Time suggests a perfect blend with the CD’s country
flavour, but it’s misleading. Joan Osborne hasn’t made much noise since the
fabulous What If God Was One Of Us, but here she teams with Sims to turn on some
irresistible Old School funk.
But it’s a one-off. This is a soundtrack for blues and country stalwarts not funk
fanciers. Anyone with a fondness for simple songs performed with a touch of class
won’t be disappointed. It mightn’t feature much soul, but its heart is sure in
the right place.