Then there's Earle's songwriting. She's Steve Earle's sister and grew up listening to her older brother's jam sessions with the likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Townes Van Zandt, and Lyle Lovett. Talk about learning at the feet of the masters. Her songs--polished, faceted gems--evoke feelings rather than convey messages. The lyrics fall into the "poetry should not mean, but be" category; neither literal storytelling nor a random, arbitrary farrago of words but instead spare, compelling sketches that allow us to fill in the pictures. "Got a car but it won't start/The only fix is a dealer's part." Their music, solidly in the Texas roots country style, also draws on blues and gospel, forming an ideal vehicle to carry the lyrics.
Our family still talks about that magical set we heard a couple of years ago. We plan to get to the Ark early on Monday, June 6, so we can enjoy them even closer up this time.
[Originally published in June, 2011.]