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CD Review: Steve Earle - So You Wannabe An Outlaw

              Steve Earle - So You Wannabe An Outlaw

I have been trying to review this record for many weeks now, not sure of how to approach it.  I am a fan of Steve Earle's, I have been for many years.  From day one, Steve has influenced me, inspired me, and agreed with my own vision of the world.  I have always looked forward to his record releases, knowing that there would be something there that spoke to my heart and soul, as well as my mind.

This record is unique in that it is not encouraging, but rather, frightening and depressing.  Steve growls his way through 16 songs with the voice of pessimism and self destruction.

The title song is a dead give away to what follows.  Its a warning, almost a dare, to those who may want to follow the country outlaw path. 

But, guess what, its not about whether you wannabe an outlaw, either you are or you're not.  Being an outlaw does not automatically make you a drug addict, alcoholic, or out of control criminal.  Being an outlaw can be a great honor.  To have the courage to say NO to abuse and oppression, to stand clean and strong with fellow humans in compassion, generosity, and humility certainly guarantees that you are an outlaw in this society.  You don't have to say goodbye to everything, good or bad, in your life.
You don't have to hit bottom, become sick, or kill yourself to be an outlaw. 
A true outlaw is alive and active in the world, creating, defending, and lifting others to take part in the high and true visions of life.

This is what Steve Earle has always given to me in his music.  I understand that he is human and we all have our demons.  So often, and throughout the history of rock & roll and country music, great artists have reached a plateau that is never again achieved. Either that, or they die young.

This is not a critical review of the record by any means.  If anything, it is written to be light for songwriters and musicians who may misunderstand this complex and deeply personal recording. Steve Earle has once again courageously come to the confessional on his knees to show us that there is a great price to pay the choices we make in life.  My hope for him is that he continues his quest to join us all through our own dark days, and at the same time, that we may be instrumental in helping him survive his own challenges.

So, tonight I will go to 'Jerusalem', I will go to 'The Mountain', and I will remember the days when I could not stop listening to those historic CDs. 
Then I will go to my car and take a long drive while I listen again the new Steve Earle record to seek out all the reasons why a young aspiring artist would "wannabe an outlaw". 

So You Wannabe An Outlaw was released in 2017 by Warner Bros Records.

Reviewed by Joe Kidd - JKSB Media LLC
for Country Music International Magazine
29 July 2017

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