Americana stalwart Joe Ely’s latest album is inspired by the hard lives and wide open spaces of the northwest Texas plains where he spent his early life.
There is a sense of mystery to tracks such as opener Wounded Creek, which drops the listener into the middle of a story and ends without conclusion. Musically, the backing is often sparse like the landscape it was inspired by, with beautiful guitar playing throughout the album ranging from Teye Winterp’s flamenco to Lloyd Maines’ acoustic slide (accompanied by Joel Guzman’s accordion). Uptempo country rocker Here’s To The Weary celebrates all the touring musicians who travelled through Texas including Woody Guthrie and Muddy Waters, while Four Ol’ Brokes has Ely blowing harmonica on a tale of train-jumping, gambling hobos. Completing the stories he has to tell here, the atmospheric Cold Black Hammer is a ballad of Texas’ oil rigs, You Saved Me, a love song to his wife.