Joe Ely: Streets of Sin (Rounder)

 |   |  <1 min read

Joe Ely: Streets of Sin (Rounder)

Ely from the flatlands of West Texas offers a triple threat: a memorable leathery twang cured in tequila, the paraffin soul of a rocker in the clothes of a Tex-Mex country singer, and a connection to a songwriting tradition which includes his gifted peers Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (of the shortlived Flatlanders which included Ely), Townes Van Zandt, organist Augie Myers, Flaco Jiminez and the late Doug Sahm.

Sensible households will have his three decade-encompassing live albums (Live Shots of '80, Live at Liberty Lunch from '90 and Live at Antones in 2000) and personal favourites from a selection which would include Down on the Drag ('79), Musta Notta Gotta Lotta ('81), Honky Tonk Masquerade ('91) and Twisting in the Wind ('98). In other words a lotta Ely is a good thing.

This, the first album under his own name in more than five years (he appeared on the revived Flatlanders album), hardly breaks new ground - that's not Ely's thing anyway - but typically digs in with tough-minded songs (the bookend tracks come from old compadre Hancock) driven by a nailed-down band. As always he broods on the tough breaks in life (All That You Need) and offers photographic images or social observation.

Best tracks among the immediately familiar: the metaphorical Flood on our Hands and title track (pronounced "streets of seen"); the country-folk love ballad That's Why I Love You Like I Do; and Carnival Bum where he briefly branches into old Tom Waits speak-sing.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Sun Kil Moon: Universal Themes (Caldo Verde)

Sun Kil Moon: Universal Themes (Caldo Verde)

When my oldest son in London recently told me that he was going to see Sun Kil Moon (aka Mark Kozelek) in concert I said something to the effect, that'll be cheerful, a bundle of laughs. That... > Read more

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

If anyone has won the right to sings songs of life on hard scrabble farms it is Levon Helm, the former drummer/singer/mandolin player in the Band who grew up on a cotton farm near a town called... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

ELVIS PRESLEY (2013): The King is gone but he's not forgotten

ELVIS PRESLEY (2013): The King is gone but he's not forgotten

When John Lennon was told in August 1977 that Elvis Presley had died, he apparently said, “Elvis died when he went into the army”. That comment is glib, dismissive and... > Read more

Sammy Price: Nice'n'nasty

Sammy Price: Nice'n'nasty

Sammy Price, who had been the house pianist on Decca sessions in the Forties (and played with the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe) among many other things, told me a very funny story which I... > Read more