Is it weird to start a review saying I respect my elders? Yet, when I say “elders” I do not mean in age as much as in legacy; what I have inherited from someone else’s experiences. For every journey we take, someone did it before and, perhaps, their journey made yours easier, better, or more open. This is what I thought throughout the legendary Steve Earle’s first show at City Winery.
Doing his winter residency at City Winery, Earle is an immediate presence. He is a burly, dominating figure whose larger than life personality beautifully plays into his music, which is all about accepting the smallness that you are. If there is one lesson about life that challenges us to either be humble or get arrogant, it is the constant reminder that you are only apart of the universe: not the center of it. Earle has plenty of stories of when he thought he was as powerful as the sun, or when he saw that it is the people you love, like his kids, friends, other communities, or romances, that make you light. Thus, from his political tracks/views such as, “F The CC” (my fave!) to songs like “You Know The Rest” and “Goodbye”, Earle played into the nostalgia of classic country-rock and the yearning most U.S. citizens have for more peaceful/ less “nuke talk” times. Although Earle’s music always had a sense of longing, in this performance, it felt like he was singing to the marvel of “longing” as an energy.
There is a power to desire that, when you are not feeling it, can truly impress you in the way it moves you through life: either making you bend or stand for it. Earle’s voice peppers songs like, “Guitar Town” and “Galway Girl” like steaks; as if his vocals are the finest seasoning to make you full. In perspective, a piece of meat is nothing/ undesirable without being cooked for flavor, and that is what Earle does; he cooks a song for its emotional tastes. The result is a surprisingly impactful show that goes beyond intimacy into universality. Sure, he is “ just a simple guy with his guitar” and a voice that tenderly simmers/ slowly smokes songs like, “Feel Alright” and “Copperhead”, but you noticed two common words to his tracks: “outlaw” and “blues”. Those two words united to formulate within me the reason why so many eyes glossed in mist at seeing Steve pluck his guitar like the last rose one earth: he plays to brokenness of being a rebel.
It ain’t easy paving your own road, and sometimes you use the wrong materials. The power of Earle is that he shows, through story and song, that as long as the road leads to love, then you can forgive the few bumps you made. Yes, I used a LOT of parables in my review, but, when you listen/ see Earle, you will realize this Southern Gent appreciates a good tale. For More Information On Steve Earle And His City Winery Residency Click Here.