Steve Earle: Washington Square Serenade

By: Phil Santala

Steve Earle might be a relative newcomer to New York City but listening to his latest album, Washington Square Serenade (New West) you would never be able to tell that. The songs about the city that never sleeps drip and ooze with a feeling of familiarity that makes you think Earle's lived there for years. At the very least, he must be a kindred soul.

Earle's new work is a far cry from Copperhead Road without actually being that far of a step. The album's style is a mix of Tom Waits meets Bruce Springsteen served over a bed of bluegrass. "Down Here Below" is a nice slow balled that moves along at a ruminating pace, while "City Of Immigrants" almost seems like a song lifted from Paul Simon. Closing out the last half of the album are three heavy songs - "Jericho Road", "Oxycontin Blues" and "Steve's Hammer" - that feature some of Earle's classic Americana angst and personal protest. "Oxycontin Blues" makes generous use of the banjo to establish a very disjointed and lumbering pace, which fits the song's subject matter well. "Steve's Hammer" is an uptempo protest song written by a man that loves his fellow countrymen but remains very skeptical of the politicians who run things.

Washington Square Serenade is a rare and unexpected gem. I gave it a shot because I liked Copperhead Road. Well, that album was released 20 years and 10 albums ago. It appears that not only do I still like Steve Erale, but I also might have some catching up to do. Maybe you do, too, and Washington Square Serenade is a great place to start.

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[Published on: 3/28/08]

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toestothenose Fri 3/28/2008 01:04PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This album was my first taste of Steve Erale - I agree w/ the reviewer it's a gem. I need to educate my ear w/ some of his older work.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Fri 3/28/2008 04:51PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

STEVE EARLE is the fucking man!!!! Not only is he an amazing songwriter but he tells it like it is. This dude actually moved out of Nashville and into NYC becasue he was so sick of all the ignorant conservatives littered across Tennessee.

Also, did anybody see him play Walon on the tv show THE WIRE aka the best TV show EVER that no one will beat.

Toes, get started with "Gutiar Town" and work your way up. STEVE EARLE is a legend is his own time. He's just as an important figure in American music as Neil Young. Yes, I just did say that.

aquariumdrunk Fri 3/28/2008 08:43PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



If this is your first taste and you love it, you HAVE to go out and grab "El Corazon" and "I Feel Alright," now! This isn't a bad album by any means, but it's definitely on the lesser side of Steve's output.

IPowrie Sat 3/29/2008 10:15AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Im really liking this CD

jambeatnik Sat 3/29/2008 02:10PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


THE WIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

eatapeach Sun 3/30/2008 10:48AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great album but you gotta' see Steve live; just saw him and Allison Moorer at the Belly Up in Solana Beach. He's a freakin' national treasure.

Mr. Brojangles starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/30/2008 12:58PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Oh yeah, Steve "Erale" is the man! A true American musician, loaded with talent, always comfortable speaking his mind. I am really looking forward to seeing his live show in a couple of weeks. It's been about 3 years since my last Steve Earle show, and I can't wait to hear some old and new tunes.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/31/2008 04:07AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

satellite radio!!! what a great song!!