Saturday, March 1, 2008

(Steve) Earle Proves Himself The Boss Of Country-Rock Storytellers

Earle Proves Himself The Boss Of Country-Rock Storytellers

By THOMAS KINTNER, Special to the Courant, March 1, 2008

For local fans of iconic American troubadours, Thursday night presented a difficult choice between Bruce Springsteen's latest Hartford date and an appearance north of the Massachusetts border by Steve Earle.

Earle, playing at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, provided ample rewards to those who chose him with a lengthy trip through some of the strongest entries in his wide range of country and rock compositions.

The solo acoustic setting in which he began the show suited the 53-year-old Earle's material, and served as a showcase for the roots-laced texture and down-to-earth clarity of his opener, "Steve's Last Ramble." The gritty sensibility at the core of his storytelling anchored the kinetic bob of "Devil's Right Hand" and fueled the wistful contemplation at the core of the mellow "Goodbye."

Politics always come standard with Earle's performances, whether in activist discourse between songs or in his lyrical content, which included the sharp social commentary of the rough-hewn story song "Billy Austin." Similar themes were at the heart of his anthems, whether it was the punchy, bouzouki-propelled "City of Immigrants" or a thumping delivery of the escalating "Steve's Hammer (For Pete)."

The rest at,0,3891230.story

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