El Corazon

Steve Earle:
El Corazon

[E-Squared/Warner Bros; 1997]
Rating: 8.7
The new Steve Earle album has one of those rare moments that makes you shut up and pay attention. It's track ten, "The Other Side of Town". I swear, my friend Scott and I were listening to the album as a backdrop to our riveting conversation (I think we were talking about cunnilingus, I'm not sure), but the moment Earle opened his voice on this particular song. It was like something reached out of the speakers and went ziploc on our lips. Earle's hoarse but tender voice pipes rode over the tex-mex ballad with frightening note-perfect accuracy, singing all sad and lonely about being... well, sad and lonely. At the end of the first verse, Scott and I just looked at each other and said the exact same thing: "Wow."

When's the last time any album made you do that?

El Corazon is a testy potluck of country, folk, rock, political jibes, a little bit of soul, and a whole lot of pain and redemption. Sound tired? Yeah, well, don't tell Steve Earle, because this motherfucker's on a stone cold roll. He redeems himself not only from years of heroin abuse, but from his wasted EP with the Supersuckers earlier in the year by teaming up with the boys again on the album's catchiest cut, "NYC". Truly, truly remarkable.

- Jason Josephes, October 1, 1997