Lyle Lovett’s superb current release, Natural Forces, is another collection of songs written by many of the same Lone Star folks who populate Step Inside This House, including Townes Van Zandt, David Ball, Vince Bell, Eric Taylor, Tommy Elskes and Don Sanders. Lovett also includes a co-write with Robert Earl Keen (“It’s Rock and Roll”) and another with his longtime fiancée, April Kimble (“Pantry”), plus two solo compositions, the title tune and “Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel.” Lovett plays the North Bay July 20&–21.
During a conversation in one of his favorite lunchtime haunts, Lovett talked about how the album came to be.
“What I was trying to do was play songs that have been a part of my musical life, so none of these songs were songs that I learned for this record,” he said. “They were songs that I’ve known for years. The simple fact was, it’s been two years since my last record and I was eager to record ‘Natural Forces’ and ‘Pantry’ and ‘Farmer Brown.’ But I didn’t have enough other songs that I was happy with that I wanted to put with ’em. And I wanted to make a record, and I thought it was a good chance to record some of these songs that weren’t on Step Inside This House.”
Just like the vast state from which they originate, these songs range far and wide. While the uptempo “Pantry” and “Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel” are laden with fiddles and “It’s Rock and Roll” is an uncharacteristic actual rocker reminiscent in tone of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “What’s Her Name,” the covers are more often poignant. They’re more about the songwriter and the singer than any genre. And for an artist like Lovett, who has spent a good part of his career celebrating Texas music, that’s as it should be.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band appear on Tuesday, July 20, at the Wells Fargo Center (50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa; 8pm; $19.50&–$89.50; 707.546.3600) and on Wednesday, July 21, at the Uptown Theater (1350 Third St., Napa; $85&–$95, 21 and over only; 707.259.0123).