New albums find Lovett paying tribute, Crow spreading her wings

By Rattaya Nimibutr

Daily Cougar Staff

Lyle Lovett has been busy for some time now. On top of recently playing a small-town cop in the hit indie film The Opposite of Sex, he's just released a sprawling two-disc album, Step Inside This House.

The 21-track collection features many notable songs by Texas songwriters and artists, such as Townes Van Zant and Walter Hyatt.

Lovett's mood here is enchanting, just the way placid country sounds should be. His work on the guitar is exceptional, and the lyrics are pleasing in a hollow, eerie way.

The album's title track, "Step Inside This House," is probably the best among this pool of admirable and gently performed tunes. Lovett carefully takes his time with each line in the song and each note strung on the guitar.

From the first two tracks, "Bears" and "Lungs," you are drawn into a world that seems small and undisturbed. The first disc is a sophisticated ride of love ballads like "More Pretty Girls Than One" and "I've Had Enough."

"Ballad of the Snow Leopard and The Tanqueray Cowboy" is another mild, poetic track. Lovett's skill is so precise here that the first collection seems to be the very definition of country music.

The most notable track on the seemingly unnecessary second disc is Lovett's Texas Trilogy - "Texas Trilogy: Daybreak," "Texas Trilogy: Train Ride" and "Texas Trilogy: Bosque Country Romance." Smooth sounds and brilliant writing by Steven Fromholz keep the album at a consistently entertaining level.

As a piece of production, Step Inside This House is Lovett's loving tribute to Texas. As a Lyle Lovett album, it's undoubtedly another gem in the talented performer's growing list of musical achievements.

Sheryl Crow has come a long way from her days as a backup singer for Michael Jackson.

Her third album, The Globe Sessions, shows just how far she has come in vocal and songwriting abilities. It is a showcase of emotions that could only be the result of introspective searching.

The album opens with the haunting first single, "My Favorite Mistake." Edgy guitar riffs greet the listener, and you know to expect some serious song lyrics.

Crow follows through on the promise, singing of loving someone who those close to her don't exactly approve of. Maybe she even realizes this person is all wrong for her, but, as she says, "all I know is you're my favorite mistake."

The strong drum beat throughout accents lyrics that are all too familiar to those who have loved someone who doesn't share the strength of their feelings. This beat provides continuity to the track, making it an easy listen.

Next is "There Goes the Neighborhood," which has a lyrical style more closely resembling that of rap songs. It is reminiscent of the once-inescapable "All I Wanna Do" from Crow's debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club.

The lyrics tell of observing life in the fast lane, of the "junkies and flunkies" encountered along the way. The chorus becomes a bit sing-songy and almost mocking: "I dropped acid on a Saturday night/Just to see what the fuss was about."

The funky background music of the track keeps the listener's feet tappin' throughout.

Another tune with an observant style is "Members Only," a track with a strong drum presence that details the town gossip.

With descriptions of Mary Ellen's new hairdo and other town news, one can almost picture the big-haired ladies sitting around, waving arms full of bracelets with the jangly tune playing in the background.

Crow gets highly emotional on "The Difficult Kind," a track that is practically a capella, save the chords in the background. Telling of a love that sees her as the difficult kind, her pain comes through on her high notes, trying to convince someone that "babe, I've changed."

More heartache is found within "Am I Getting Through (Part I & II)," with lyrics of trying to please her love and finding she has become someone she's not. Crow practically screams the chorus, asking "Am I getting through?"

There's sadness and pensive thought in "Riverwide," memories of a former love in "It Don't Hurt" and wistfulness in "Maybe That's Something."

And be sure not to pop the album out of the disc player as soon as the last track, "Crash and Burn," has ended. A pleasant surprise awaits the patient listener, especially if you enjoyed "Na Na Song" on Crow's self-titled sophomore effort.

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