The Leo Kottke Connection

Photo by Tom Berthiaume




Gannett News Service

He married the prettiest girl he knew, but good ol' Lyle Lovett is still the same insecure goob he always was. Lyle's convinced that his beloved's parents, well, "They Don't Like Me." ("She said, you know, he doesn't drink much. And we've never heard him curse. And he's really not that ugly, dear. She could've done much worse.") In "Skinny Legs," he's checking out sharp dressers in cool cars and speculating "you'd love me if I were a looker like him."
    Most of the songs on Lovett's new "I Love Everybody" disc (his fifth) are at least a decade old, but there's nothing like getting hitched to Julia Roberts to affirm his homely self, we reckon. Physical imperfection is as close as the collection comes to hanging on a theme. And once he's thoroughly picked over his own flaws, Lovett gleefully describes those he sees around him in dark, cruel detail on songs like "The Fat Girl."
    His writing here runs from the wonderfully weird to the half-finished. Lovett's cast of quirky characters include a fellow who helps himself to his dying grandmother's gold tooth (in "Creeps Like Me") and a comely music store clerk (his "Record Lady's" "got the cutest little cartridge that you've ever seen"). And he's still got a deft way with a poignant moment, as on "Hello Grandma," in which he calls an old girlfriend's home, then learns she now has a handsome, rich husband.
    Much of the rest rambles. "Ain't It Somethin' " and "La To the Left" are pulled from the dregs of Lovett's unrecorded catalog. The first single, "Penguins," plain doesn't make any sense. (Although the situational irony of lines like "I don't go for movie stars" is pretty obvious.) With 18 generous songs, though, it's difficult to quibble.
    It's all played with a manic grin in his voice and a spring in his guitar strings. His Large Band takes an extended break, and the folksy songs are for the most part fleshed out with spare arrangements for a handful of musicians.
    He closes with a schmaltzy sing-along in the title track, featuring a celebrity chorus that includes Rickie Lee Jones, Leo Kottke and Lovett's wife. The kicker to this harmony fest? "I love everybody, especially you."

Copyright 1994, Gannett News Service, a division of Gannett Satelitte Information Network, Inc.
KIM WILLIS, LYLE'S `LOVE' IS ECLECTIC., Gannett News Service, 11-11-1994.

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