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Joe Ely

Panhandle Rambler – 2015 (Rack 'Em)

Reviewed by Bill Caruthers

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CDs by Joe Ely

Joe Ely shows no signs of slowing down on his ninth release. Writing all but two of the dozen songs over the past three or four years, Ely is at his best here, painting pictures with words of the Texas that he calls home.

The title belies the scope of this album, with its contents illustrating a panorama of Texas landscape and citizenry (legal and otherwise), including those from just south of the border as well. Standouts abound: "Four Ol' Brokes," a tale of poker, train yards, narrow escapes and just desserts; "Wonderin' Where" an easy listening tribute to childhood memories of West Texas canyons, radio stations, towers, floating the river, angels and trains, again; and "Burden of Your Load" a Gypsy tale of the devil in a black Chevrolet.

A tribute to Woody Guthrie, Bob Wills, Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, Buddy Holly and the Sun stars, all, "Here's To The Weary" salutes those road warriors of the past as surely Ely should be saluted by future generations. Covers of Guy Clark's "Magdalene" and Butch Hancock's "When The Nights Are Cold" are in good hands. This is an old pro at work, perhaps not as raucous as in his heyday, far less reckless, but infinitely more surefooted.

With liberal does of the accordion of Joel Guzman, the slide work of Lloyd Maines and laced with the Flamenco guitar of Teye Wijnterp, the songs evoke vivid pictures of a world both real and imagined as interpreted by a master story teller.