Joe Ely's most recent live outing finds him on a familiar stage charting what might be unfamiliar territory for his older fans. Ely has had a storied career - literally, what with the dozens of tales he has spun over albums like "Honky Tonk Masquerade" and "Love And Danger." Ely's crack band has always been able to mix searing electric guitar with West Texas swing and shuffle, all the while melding philosophical takes from the mind of Ely or his two Lubbock bretheren, Jimmie Dale Gilmore or Butch Hancock.
Recently, Ely has mined a new vein, adding flamenco and Spanish textures to his accounts of hard-fought wisdom. Flamenco guitarist Teye lends tension and grit to Tom Russell's "Gallo del Cielo," while old Ely stalwarts Lloyd Maines and Jesse Taylor break out the slash and slide on rockers like "Everybody Got Hammered" and "Up On The Ridge." Ely even goes so far as to include a cover of Buddy Holly's "Oh, Boy." On some selections, the band goes a little too far, extending the song when a less-strenuous workout might have sufficed.
No matter. Live Ely is always welcome - particularly at Antone's, in Ely's adopted hometown of Austin - and if you don't like this album's full-band version of "Me And Billy The Kid," you can always seek out Ely's last live outing, "Live At Liberty Lunch," for a more definitive rendering.