The name of Lyle Lovett’s last contractual album for Curb Records, Release Me, is a bit of a joke, functioning as both a title and a farewell. The album itself is a mixture of covers and originals and, it must be said, is not as cohesive as some of Lovett’s past offerings. However, this urbane cowboy still delivers both sincere and sarcastic lyrics with the understated class of a musical Will Rogers.
The k.d. lang and Lovett duet on the honky-tonking title track perfectly pairs lang’s pretty with Lovett’s pained, almost as though lang – in full Patsy Cline persona – was actually singing with Willie Nelson. The Lovett original “The Girl with the Holiday Smile,” which finds him befriending a prostitute at the market, is nicely accompanied by Matt Rollings’s jazzy piano. The stripped-down, acoustic-guitar-backed “Understand You” proves Lovett can inhabit the straight, Steve Earl-sque folk songwriter vibe whenever necessary.