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Steve Earle & The Dukes (And Duchesses): The Low Highway

Veteran digs into travelling tales for 15th studio album.

The last time Steve Earle credited the Dukes on an album was 1987’s Exit O. Twenty-six years on, the addition of female cadre the Duchesses (including his wife Alison Moorer) and the world-weary tone (21st Century Blues) mirror a similar course taken by key influence Bruce Springsteen.

But Earle’s narrative is compellingly singular, and the musical variety feeding his fiery and thoughtful tunes well measured. Whether recounting his own drug demons on the rolling blues of Pocketful Of Rain, or combining a reflective, folksy feel with an undercurrent of seething wrath (Burnin’ It Down), his ability to match the personal and political has seldom been sharper.

Even closer Remember Me, an ode to his newborn, sung in the worn, cracked voice of an aged father, favours raw honesty over glib sentiment.