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Album Review

Lyle Lovett, 'Natural Forces'

November 2, 2009

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Country
Lyle Lovett Natural Forces
Curb / Lost Highway
ESSENTIAL “Natural Forces’’
Lyle Lovett & His Large Band play at the Orpheum Theatre on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $36.50-$56.50 at www.livenation.com or 877-598-8689.

Lyle Lovett lost some fans with his Large Band, an ensemble that extended his reach from country to big-band jazz and gospel. But for this soul-searching new disc, he mines a stripped-down, more country-centric sound with some of the Large Band, but minus the lush trappings. If you like the country side of Lovett, which is how he started in the ’80s, you’ll love this record. The title track is a cowboy lament about riding a horse in Oklahoma while thinking of the Native Americans maligned on this same land. It’s a superb opener, and he defends them again in the affecting “Whooping Crane.’’ No Lovett album, though, is without comic relief, and that comes in the bluegrass rock of “Pantry,’’ a sly ditty about hoping his wife will stay faithful while he’s away. The disc starts out strongly and then slows down with a bevy of ballads, but they represent some of his best, most poignant work. Augmenting his four original songs are seven covers of tunes penned by fellow Texans, including a drop-dead gorgeous version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Loretta.’’ Lovett may be eccentric, but he always has taste. (Out now) STEVE MORSE