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Review: Lyle Lovett live and large



"I've Been to Memphis"
[225k MPEG-3] or [310k WAV]

"That's Right (You're Not From Texas)"
[225k MPEG-3] or [310k WAV]

"If I Had a Boat"
[170k MPEG-3] or [225k WAV]

(Courtesy MCA Records)

Web posted on: Tuesday, June 22, 1999 12:21:19 PM EDT

From Mary Jo DiLonardo
Special to CNN Interactive

(CNN) -- Lyle Lovett is one of those rare performers who pretty much sounds exactly the same live in concert as he does in the studio. Because of his stark, unmistakable vocal style, he doesn't require the magic of studio enhancements to make his voice richer or more resonant.

So, except for a few different phrasings, Lyle is just Lyle on his new release, "Lyle Lovett and His Large Band: Live in Texas." He's his usual eclectic mix of country, jazz, blues, pop and a heaping helping of just about everything else.

However, the big deal about this disc is that Lovett is joined by his much-acclaimed Large Band. From the haunting cello in "You Can't Resist It" to the barroom piano and bright horns that fill up the recording, Lovett's big back-up group adds so much to his performance.

Despite the musical power of his band only a cue away, Lovett is smart enough not to over-orchestrate his performance. The big sound is pared way down on the soft ballads so as not to overshadow them. Then it comes blasting back in --- instruments blazing -- on the bigger, bolder numbers.

The Lone Star crowd is obviously appreciative of their talented Texan. But, unlike many live albums, where crowd sounds can drown out the music, there's none of that here.

Feature: Lyle Lovett's love of Texas

He loves everybody

The concert -- taped in San Antonio, the heart of Lovett country -- offers many of his staples. Highlights include "She's No Lady (She's My Wife)," "If I Had A Boat" and "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)." It ends appropriately with the melancholy "Closing Time."

Rickie Lee Jones adds her unique brand of harmony to "North Dakota." Lovett's longtime vocalist companion, Francine Reed, not only joins him on "What Do You Do" (from his original Large Band recording); she also tears it up on a solo, "Wild Women Don't Get the Blues." Although Reed is highly talented, Lovett shouldn't have forfeited an entire track to a guest artist.

As his odd rooster hair might suggest, Lovett is a strange bird. He's made seven albums -- all lauded by critics. He's had roles in a number of respected films, including "The Opposite of Sex," "Short Cuts" and "The Player." Although his music has never been mainstream, Lovett became a household name a few years back when he married Julia Roberts after a whirlwind celebrity courtship. The couple has since untied the knot, causing Lovett to be dumped unceremoniously from the tabloid headlines.

That's all fine and good for die-hard fans of the quirky Texan. Those loyal listeners will enjoy this live and large career retrospective.

Lyle Lovett's love of Texas
June 16, 1999
After 10 years, Kelly Willis gets what she deserves
April 20, 1999
1997 Grammy Awards - Country and Bluegrass Grammy Nominees
Year in review: Hollywood Breakups
December 27, 1995

Lyle Lovett on MCA Records
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