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Lyle Lovett

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Lyle Pearce Lovett (born November 1, 1957) is an American singer-songwriter and actor. Active since 1980, he has recorded thirteen studio albums to date. His highest-peaking single to date is 1986’s “Cowboy Man”, a Number Ten hit on the country charts. He has won four Grammy Awards, including Best Male Country Vocal Performance (1990) and Best Country Album (1997).

Lovett was born in the unincorporated region of Klein, Harris County (suburban Houston), Texas, the son of William and Bernell Lovett, a marketing executive and training specialist, respectively. Lovett attended Texas A&M University, where he studied German and journalism, and lived next door to Robert Earl Keen.

Lovett’s music career began as a songwriter, but he soon signed with MCA Records in 1986 and released his eponymous debut album. While typically associated with the country genre, Lovett’s compositions often incorporate folk, swing, blues, jazz and gospel music as well as more traditional country styling. He has won four Grammy Awards, including Best Country Album (1996 for The Road to Ensenada), Best Country Duo/Group with Vocal (1994 for “Blues For Dixie” with the Texas swing group Asleep at the Wheel), Best Pop Vocal Collaboration (1994 for “Funny How Time Slips Away” with Al Green) and Best Country Male Vocal (1989) for Lyle Lovett and His Large Band).

Lovett has acted in a number of films, including Robert Altman’s film The Player (1992), Short Cuts (1993), Pret-a-Porter (1994), The Opposite of Sex (1998), Cookie’s Fortune (1999), and composed for Dr. T & the Women (2000). More recently, he has acted in The New Guy (2002) and Walk Hard  Tthe Dewey Cox Story (2007). His television acting forays include Mad About You, Brothers & Sisters and Dharma & Greg.

Lovett was given an Esky for Surest Thing in Esquire’s 2006 Esky Music Awards in the April issue. The magazine said of Lovett: “The secret of Lyle Lovett’s endurance comes down to the three C’s - class, charisma and consistency. . . . In the studio and on stage with his giant orchestra, he’s spent two decades gracefully matching genuine song craft with A-list musicianship.”

On his sophomore effort for Lost Highway (and first release in four years), Lyle Lovett tests the label’s free-spirited reputation with an eclectic slate of songs that range from fervent country swing through gospel-blues, though the core here finds the Texas singer-songwriter in a decidedly quiet, introspective mood. Anchored by a vibrant, swinging take on Lester Young’s “Tickle Toe”, his big band’s first sprawling instrumental workout in many a year, Lovett quickly segues into the intriguing gospel-blues of the “I Will Rise Up/Ain’t No More Cane” medley before shrewdly contemplating the backside of life and fame’s inevitable grade on “All Downhill from Here” and the weary “This Traveling Around”. The plaintive grace of “Don’t Cry a Tear” and “The Alley Song” hauntingly blurs genre boundaries, while “South Texas Girl” does a little quiet Tex-Mex retrenchment. Lovett celebrates his 50th year here with a muse that’s ever restless, yet still spry enough to relish the simple, varied joys of the buoyant “Up in Indiana” (also featured in a stripped-down acoustic version), the bluesy “No Big Deal”, and the gospel-meets-carnal playfulness of “Make It Happy” before another fervent, elegiac version of “Ain’t No More Cane” brings the album full-circle.

While music should be and is open for interpretation by the listener, Lovett’s new album, It’s Not Big It’s Large (2007), suggests notions of mortality, loss and the fluidity of time. In many of the songs, the past intrudes on the present and the narrator finds strength to deal with the travails of today by putting them into historical perspective. That sounds like heavy-going, but its Lovett’s gift to make the deep thoughts slide down like honey.

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