I am an evangelical Reformed Christian and Fox News kind of guy but I love music made liberal pagans. Now, most of you know that I am largely a metalhead but I also confess a love for singer-songwriters, alt. country, neo-folk, etc. and they are almost exclusively non-Christian, conspiracy theorist socialists.
Case in point, the great Steve Earle (pic to the left). I've been a fan of Earle since he debuted in 1986 with the brilliant album "Guitar Town." Earle produced three more very good albums ("Exit O", "Copperhead Road" and "The Hard Way") before sinking into heroin addiction and a brief stint in jail. Earle made a brilliant comeback in 1995 with "Train A' Comin'" and then spawned a series of near perfect records in the mid- to late nineties including "I Feel Alright", "El Corazon" and "The Mountain", a bluegrass collaberation with the Del McCurry Band. Earle has been a little off since then but did produce a truly great album in 2002's "Jerusalem."
Earle's appeal is his uncanny ability to write compelling story songs set to catchy melodies. Earle has been called the hillbilly Bruce Springsteen but, in my opinion, with the exception of his obvious vocal limitations, Earle is Springsteen's superior in every way.
If you are a fan of roots rock, americana music and appreciate a great lyric then by all means check out Earle. For example, spend a few bucks over at iTunes and check out the songs "Copperhead Road" (the story of a family of country bootleggers turned dope runners), "The Ballad of Billy & Bonnie" (the tale of a middle aged siren and her young lover on a crime spree), "NYC" (the story of a hitchiker's hopes to make it big on the Great White Way), "The Mountain" (a coal miner's lament over the ecolological state of his hometown), "Jerusalem" (Earle's post 9-11 hope for peace in the Middle East) and "Rich Man's War" (a denunciation of "the powers" behind modern wars both foreign and domestic). Those are just a sampling but you really can't go wrong (although his new album is just so-so). I don't think Earle and I agree on anything from politics to religion but he is a truly brilliant and underappreciated songwriter.