The argument has been made that Lyle Lovett’s much-publicized marriage to Julia Roberts reduced the flow of his songwriting faucet to a trickle. Since 1996 (the year after Lovett and Roberts split up), the Houston-based troubadour has released only one album of new, original songs: 2003’s My Baby Don’t Tolerate
It’s not unusual for even the most committed tunesmiths to slow down when they hit middle age, and the evidence of recent years suggests that Lovett gets most of his creative joy these days out of live performances. Maintaining a rigorous touring schedule with his 18-piece Large Band, Lovett has the ideal vehicle for his far-flung ideas. All but the most foolhardy long ago stopped categorizing him as a country artist and accepted that Lovett’s amalgam of gospel, blues, jazz, Western swing, folk, and country was a combination all his own.
Thirty years after playing his first gig, the 48-year-old Lovett is the consummate pro, projecting an ease that never feels like he’s coasting, a shyness that he’s stylized into a droll, homespun, Lone Star sense of humor. With an ace band that includes longtime accomplice John Hagen on cello, Lovett is one of those artists that can offer you something special every time he comes to town, whether or not he has any new material to showcase.