The Skinny: My Baby is vintage Lyle. He’s always pushed the boundaries of country & western music, historically veering to the jazzier side of Western swing. On this disc he brings his considerable songwriting chops and his high-style instincts to Texas boogie, good-time honky-tonk, gospel — even a very moving torch song.
Sounds Like: Lyle Lovett (hello…)
Deeper Thoughts: The late Tom Petty called today’s mainstream country music “bad rock bands with a fiddle.” Lyle always bucks that trend, and this record sits firmly north of the mainstream. I played the boot-scootin’ lead track, “Cute as a Bug,” like seven times before I even got to the rest of the record (all hail the CD for its easy-repeat capability). The title track is awash in Telecaster guitar that is more snarly than anything I remember on a Lovett recording. Love the locomotive groove, rubbery pedal steel and gather-round vocal of “The Truck Song,” the country sway and toe-tappin’ chorus of “In My Own Mind” and the hard-rockin’ honky-tonk of “Wallisville Road.” But the clear highlight for me is the smokey-jazz melancholy of “You Were Always There.”
The Sonics: Do NOT settle for some fraudulent streaming or MP3 experience of this record. This disc sounds great! And it’s best enjoyed through a nice pair of loudspeakers — its fabulous sound stage desperately wants to inhabit a room. The presence of “You Were Always There” is more than worth the paltry sum we’re asking (shipping included!). Throughout this recording, great mic-ing delivers pleasingly chunky and zingy acoustic guitar, well-articulated bass thump, a thrill-ride of pedal steel runs and the snaky string-twang of electric guitars. If you don’t buy this it’s your loss — I’ll take it to CES this January and listen to it on a bunch of amazing gear.