Reissue of I Feel Alright recalls Steve Earle finding his sound

As a protégé of legendary songwriters Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Steve Earle quickly became a master storyteller in his own right, penning songs recorded by country and rock heavyweights including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, The Pretenders, Joan Baez and many others. The Virginia native who grew up in Texas was soon making his own way as a recording artist, releasing Guitar Town in 1986 and establishing himself as one of the original “New Country” innovators. An “extremely exciting and varied array of releases” followed, including the “biting hard rock” of Copperhead Road (1988), and the “minimalist beauty” of Train A Comin’ (1995).

Perhaps the best example of how Earle seamlessly balances his country, acoustic music roots with his rock side is 1996’s I Feel Alright, described as one of the crown jewels in the artist’s long and ongoing recording career. The album includes standout songs ‘Feel Alright,’ ‘The Unrepentant,’ ‘CCKMP,’ and a duet with Lucinda Williams on the album’s closing track, ‘You're Still Standin' There.’ The original Warner Bros. Records release is now available as a reissue from Plain Records, presented for the first time ever on 180g vinyl with gatefold jacket.

Music writer David Cantwell (author of “Merle Haggard: The Running Kind”) says Earle “finally finds a way to blend the styles seamlessly” on I Feel Alright. “Whether begging for a forgiveness he probably doesn't deserve on the deceptively sweet ‘Valentine's Day,’ or steadfastly refusing even the idea of forgiveness on the Stonesy ‘Unrepentant,’ Earle rocks and twangs in equal measure.” He adds the album is “Earle's best work, at least so far.”

Later albums include the “politically charged masterpiece” Jerusalem (2002) and the Grammy Award-winning albums The Revolution Starts…Now (2004), Washington Square Serenade (2007), and Townes (2009). In 2011, Earle released his 14th studio album, I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, via New West Records. The 11-track set was produced by T Bone Burnett and is Earle's first collection of original material since the aforementioned Washington Square Serenade.

I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive includes the celebrated song ‘This City,’ which was written for the HBO Original Series, “Treme.” Earle also has a recurring role on the show as the character “Harley.” ‘This City’ features horn arrangements by Allen Toussaint and garnered a Grammy Award nomination in the category of Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media Category as well as an Emmy nod for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

The album title is taken from the title of the last song ever recorded by Hank Williams. Earle also uses the same name for his 2013 debut novel published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The story is a fictional account of the troubled life of Doc Ebersole, who is haunted by the ghost of his former patient and friend, Hank Williams. Earle’s latest album project is The Low Highway, a 2013 release on New West Records billed as Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses). Earle, 59, toured in support of the album with the band, featuring his singer-songwriter wife, Allison Moorer. Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses) starts the New Year with a four-night stand at the City Winery in New York City on Jan. 5 with Willie Watson, Jan. 12 with Shawn Colvin, and two solo engagements (Jan. 19, 26).

Watch Steve Earle in the official music video for his classic country-rock hit ‘Copperhead Road.’

As A Matter of Fact…

* Stephen Fain "Steve" Earle was born January 17, 1955, in Fort Monroe, Virginia. He grew up near San Antonio, Tex., and began to play guitar at age 11. In 1982, Earle moved to Nashville and began his career as a songwriter.

* During his early days in Nashville, Earle wrote songs and played bass guitar in Guy Clark's band and on Clark's 1975 album Old No. 1. Earle also appeared in the 1975 film Heartworn Highways, a documentary on the Nashville music scene that featured Clark, David Allan Coe, Townes van Zandt, and Rodney Crowell.

* Earle moved back to Texas in the late 1970s and formed the band The Dukes. A return to Nashville in the early 1980s was marked by work as a songwriter for the publishers Roy Dea and Pat Carter. A song he co-wrote titled ‘When You Fall in Love’ was recorded by Johnny Lee and reached No. 14 on the country charts in 1982.

* Earle began recording his own material on Dea and Carter’s independent record label, LSI, and released the EP Pink & Black, featuring The Dukes. He then signed with Epic Records in 1983 and completed a record deal with CBS, recording a neo-rockabilly album.

* After severing ties with Dea and Carter as well as Epic Records, Earle obtained a seven record deal with MCA Records, releasing his full-length breakthrough album, Guitar Town, in 1986. Both the title track and ‘Goodbye's All We've Got Left’ became Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Sings chart.

* Steve Earle has released 15 studio albums, including a collaboration with bluegrass artist Del McCoury. He’s received three Grammy awards, and his songs have been recorded by top artists such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Vince Gill, and Emmylou Harris. Earle has also appeared in film and television roles as well as written a novel, a play, and book of short stories.

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