Ryan Adams’ Cold Roses has everything a good country album should: weepy ballads (“How Do You Keep Love Alive”), rollicking barn-burners (“Let It Ride” and “If I Am a Stranger”), and bittersweet love songs (“Dance All Night” and “Friends”). The album’s diversity of sound is truly impressive. It got me through both good and bad times.
Quite naturally, I’ve been searching for more albums like Cold Roses. Josh Ritter’s Golden Age of Radio came pretty close. But a few weeks ago I found something even better: Transcendental Blues by Steve Earle. Much like Cold Roses, Transcendental Blues features a remarkable range of sound. There are country rockers (“The Galway Girl”) and barroom bawlers (“Lonelier Than This” and “Over Yonder”). But that’s where the similarities end. Transcendental Blues is an entirely different experience. It sounds grittier and more mature than Cold Roses. Earle’s gravelly southern drawl provides the perfect accompaniment to the tales of hardship, disappointment, and regret that abound in his music.
Transcendental Blues is my first experience with Steve Earle. It certainly won’t be my last; the man has over a dozen studio albums to his name. Looks like I’ve got some work to do.