Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses): 'The Low Highway' 

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Steve Earle’s latest album features three songs from the soundtrack of HBO’s Treme, on which he played a recurring character. All of these songs are very good (especially the resilient “That All You Got?”) and will hopefully encourage a bunch of Starbucks patrons to buy this album and then get confused. Minus these three sunny TV-ready tracks, Low Highway is practically a concept album about how fucked everything is. Earle’s been telling us this for years, of course, but with the exception of some old guy bitching on “21st Century Blues” (“Where the hell is my flying car?”) Earle’s still finding effective and interesting ways to proclaim our doom. The “ghosts of America” staring out broken factory windows include a dead-end meth cook, a man who dreams of burning down the town’s Wal-Mart, and other characters most people only see via pay cable.

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