Lyle Lovett is back on the road with fellow troubadour John Hiatt

Nick Cristiano
The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT)

Since his self-titled debut album in 1986, Lyle Lovett has established himself as a distinctive voice in American music — a lanky Texan with a mischievous grin who follows in the Lone Star tradition of stubbornly individualistic talents, from Bob Wills to Willie Nelson, Delbert McClinton to Guy Clark. With a style that ranges from stark folk narratives to robust swing and R&B delivered with his Large Band — and sly humor — Lovett has had a richly rewarding musical career spiced by the occasional acting gig.

Busy as he is, however, Lovett still makes time to hit the road regularly with his old pal John Hiatt. The 53-year-old Texan and the 58-year-old Indiana native may have different personalities and different musical approaches, but they have developed quite a rapport since first performing together in 1989, and that's evident in their loose and spontaneous acoustic performances.

"It's a really great chance for me to ask him about his songs and his process," Lovett says from Austin, Texas, where he was recording a song for a Guy Clark tribute album. "For me, that's one of the most enjoyable aspects of doing this. I get to sit on stage and interview him, basically. ... And he surprises me every night."

"There's nothing more inspiring to me than to be in the company of someone who's fully engaged in what he's doing, and who's really talented. ... Sometimes, it makes you want to put your guitar down and stop. But ultimately it makes you want to take it back out and try to do something."

Lovett is too modest to say it, but other artists no doubt look at the four-time Grammy winner the same way. His most recent album, 2009's "Natural Forces," once again displays his range. It presents topflight original songs while also showcasing his skills as an interpreter by spotlighting numbers from Texas tunesmiths who influenced him, including Eric Taylor, Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt.

"These are all songs that have been a part of my musical life since I was 18 or 20," Lovett says. The songwriters are artists he got to see and in some cases know. "Behind their musical impact, they had a personal impact on me as well."

In December, Lovett appeared with Helen Hunt in the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles' production of "Much Ado About Nothing." He had a musical as well as an acting role that allowed him to perform some of his own songs.

It was his first formal stage role after several appearances in movies and on TV. He's open to more acting, but Lovett, who is in the early stages of making his next album, says any roles have to fit around his music schedule.

"It's great fun, and I've enjoyed it every time I've gotten to do it. But playing and singing and making up songs is my real job."





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.