Alibi V.13 No.2 • Jan 8-14, 2004 

Music Magnified

Steve Earle

with Greg Brown

Steve Earle performs on a day pass.
Steve Earle performs on a day pass.

Sunday, Jan. 11; Lensic Performing Arts Center (Santa Fe, all ages, 7 p.m.): While many folks are content—eager, even—to accept Hank III as neo-country music's bona fide badboy, the title actually belongs to Steve Earle, Americana's equivalent to rock's Bruce Springsteen. His antiestablishment attitude has remained untouched by his various addictions and run-ins with the law, and his songwriting—largely as a result of his various addictions and run-ins with the law—has only gotten better, more precise.

Instead of sounding worn-out, Earle sounds worn-in—like the most comfortable pair of blue jeans you can imagine. Refreshingly, he makes no apologies about his political stance, continues to exemplify American patriotism both through his music and his actions, and readily acknowledges that his mistakes have been his own.

Earle's art combines the storytelling grace of James McMurtry with the experience-driven common sense of Billy Joe Shaver and the I-don't-give-a-fuckitude of David Allen Coe. You'd be hard-pressed to do much better than that.