Vinyl Frontier: Lyle Lovett and his Large Band

LYLE Lovett is known for many things, but mostly he is still remembered for his whirlwind romance with the film star Julia Roberts.

They met on a film set in 1993 and married three weeks later. I was already a big fan by then and could never quite get my head around this unlikely romance, although they did have a love of Texas in common.

Lyle Lovett, the tall, stylish and pleasantly weird country singer in his tailor-made suits, married to that glossy film star? The gossips said it wouldn’t last and the gossips were right. The couple divorced amicably after less than two years.

One of my friends, long since dead sadly, was sniffy about Lovett, considering him not to be a ‘proper’ country singer. I didn’t really mind then what sort of country singer he was, and still don’t.

What you get with Lovett are wry, witty and sometimes properly emotional, dusty-booted songs. You also get that lovely song about a horse on water (If I Had A Boat – not on this album).

As the title suggests, this album from 1989 sees Lovett dipping his cowboy boots into country big-band swing, starting with an instrumental burst of Clifford Brown’s The Blues Walk.

After that, the album features Lovett’s own songs, such as the non-sequitur burger café chat of Here I Am, and the raucous banter with singer Francine Reed on What Do You Do/The Glory of Love, and a surprising cover.

Their interplay is fantastic – and even better on the big band live album from 1999, Lyle Lovett: Live In Texas (I only have that on CD so it’s ruled out for this vinyl discussion).

As well as the big, swinging sound, this album does have quieter country moments. Best title goes to the shot of wry sloshed into the glass of I Married Her Because She Looks Like You.

Which Way Does That Old Pony Run is a hymn to the dusty trail, while the album wraps up with the acoustic country-jazz of Once Is Enough, with lovely guitar playing from a musician with the splendid name of DesChamps Hood.

The cover version is Lovett’s take on the Billy Sherrill/Tammy Wynette classic, Stand By Your Man. Smartly, he doesn’t cheat with the lyrics, but belts the song out from the woman’s viewpoint.

Incidentally, according to a quick Google, Lovett got over Julia Roberts and is now with a younger woman called April Kimble, so there you go.

If you don’t know which way Lyle runs, he’s well worth following down that dusty track.

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