Not unlike the E Street Band, Lyle Lovett's Large Band has always been a ubiquitous presence on his recordings, even if this latest outing is the first to include their collective names in the title since 1989's Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. With this talented aggregation of musicians, Lovett has gone from mere country artist to being more of a stylistic mix-master reminiscent of Texas forebear Bob Wills. In addition to the swing jazz and blues Wills dipped into, Lovett hasn't been above incorporating gospel and folk into his work. True to form, the Texas singer-songwriter continues down the same path with this cheekily titled tenth studio album and only the third of new material that Lovett has released in fifteen years. Opening with a swinging rip through the Lester Young instrumental "Tickle Toe," Lovett quickly settles into somber and serious singer-songwriter mode, using lost love and mortality as thematic touchstones. Lovett's penchant for vivid imagery is readily apparent on songs like "South Texas Girl," with its memories of a childhood car ride bookended by a weathered spoken-word segment by Guy Clark. And while this songcraft is admirable, it would have behooved Lovett to let the Large Band flash more of its musical chops as he did on the pedal-steel-soaked two-step "Up in Indiana," and the jaunty, gospel-informed soul of "Make It Happy."
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