HIDE!- Holy Lyle :

Lyle Lovett’s songs are as strange as V he looks. Amy Druszewski talks F God and Death with the man who j used to be country but ain’t no more.


Six foot several inches in his cowboy boots, with forbidding eyebrows and an almost unnnaturally elongated face, Lyle Lovett would make a fine Salem-style Puritan, dropping the occasional ; stone slab on hapless witches and calling down fire ; and brimstone at regular intervals. In these more enlightened times he’s found a , more socially acceptable outlet for his obsessions. ; as a one-time country singer turned band leader, i soul crooner, blues hollerer, gospel stomper and all-round eclectic kinda guy. His fourth album. Joshua Judges Ruth is, stylewise, some distance from the twangy strains of his debut album and its successor, Pontiac, but the lyrical aspects remain familiar. 5 ‘These songs are all conversations with God 5 about three topics,’ he says, ‘death, food and . women. Or maybe that should be death, women


and food. You could say that this is my gospel death album.”

Joshua Judges Ruth is Lovett’s gospel death album. Where previously his songs roamed i through diners, bedrooms or cruised the endless , highway, these compositions for the most part only abandon their pew in the local church to take a stroll in the cemetery. So we have songs like ‘Since The Last Time‘, a morbid epic about a family reunion around the graveside of an unfortunate member ofthe Lovett clan, and ‘Family Reserve’ which, with its litany of late Lovetts from Uncle Julius to Uncle Eugene and a

couple of cousins in-between, suggests that these ; ' ~ rm v7 v' “' reunions are fairly regular. : Bible, I like the resonance that sort of phrasing ; actually slightly hopeful. ‘lfl think about it.‘ says ‘I haven’t been exactly burdened with personal i has. Joshua Judges Ruth is. simply put. the names Lovett. ‘thzit‘s probably my first really positive tragedy,‘ Lovett says, dispelling the impression . ofthree consecutive books ofthe Old i song about a relationship. . .‘ that his family is perpetually dogged by the Grim ; Testament,but it also seems to suggest what ! Lovett has recently moved to the non-country Reaper, ‘but I do think that death and the people have said about my view of men and branch of MCA. a tacit acceptance of the fact that surrounding details makeagood subject fora i women. [like that double meaning.‘ the one-time leading light ofthe ‘New Country‘ song, all the people gathering at the cemetery, that i l movement has moved onto other musical styles, $011.?f8tlilff: Allghe things that emerge about i are Where Lovett can indulge his desire to ‘leavc amt yre ations ips.‘ - bi er and bi i ers aces in the son vs, bi lum sof The other keystone track on the album is God about "nee top'cs’ ,death’ mad and silfiice . Joshzifit Jugges Ruth onlv céontaitiis OHS ‘Church’, superficially a hand-clapping, women- down-the-line country song. but‘Lovett isn't foot-stomping exhortation to ‘listen to what the ave rsc to doing the occasional low-key gig at the preacher says‘. In fact Lovett’s approach to that What people have said about Lovett‘s view of honky-tonks. ‘I still like that stvle.‘ he savs, ‘the ole-time religion is more ambivalent. Brought up men and women is that he is occasionally sexist way you can say reallv direct things within that in a devout Lutheran community, he absorbed the and always gloomy. With a history of songs like simple format. I‘m not about to give that up dogma from an early age. Now his fascination ‘She Ain‘t No Lady. She's My Wife‘ and ‘I Married completelv.‘ seems to be more with Biblical phrasing and Her Just Because She Looked Like You‘. the new Well at least not until Massachusetts needs a new imagery. Joshua Judges Ruth is packed with album’s ‘She‘s Leaving Me Because She Really Witchfinder General. i archaic and ornate language, from the title Wants To‘ comes as no real surprise. What is a Ler Lovett/1 m! I {is Large Band p/m’ The ' downwards. ‘I still love the formal language of the surprise is Flyswatter/lce Water. a slow blues that is Playhouse Theatre. Edinburgh on Sun I 4.


The List .5 18 June 1992 25