This is the ninth track I’ve featured from Lyle Lovett’s excellent 1996 album The Road to Ensenada, still his finest ever moment on record and one of my all-time favorite albums.
This is where I have to express my incredulity and dismay that Lovett hasn’t released an album of any sort in seven years, and no album of largely original material in 12. I’d like to think he has another Ensenada in him, but I don’t know if he’ll ever record again.
I had forgotten that Lyle Lovett’s song ‘Promises,’ in addition to appearing on The Road to Ensenada, showed up on the soundtrack of Tim Robbins’ film Dead Man Walking.
The film came out about six months before the album, but I’m not sure if the song was written for the movie. The lyrics are certainly appropriate for a film about the redemption of a death row inmate but the feelings described could apply as easily to a relationship as a crime.
Day 28 of the 30 Day Music Challenge calls for ‘A Song By An Artist With a Voice That You Love.’ As usual, lots of great options here.
I might have gone with several artists I’ve already featured in this series, including yesterday’s pick, Fiona Apple, as well as Frank Sinatra, Tift Merritt, Elton John, Michael Stipe or Olivia Newton-John. But repeats are a no-no.
The fourth most viewed Song of the Day post belongs to Lyle Lovett — it’s the title track of his best album, The Road to Ensenada.
I’m guessing this post has attracted so much attention due to its general awesomeness, as well as the mysterious nature of its lyrics. I can imagine many an obsessed fan Googling away to come across any scraps they can find about this haunting masterpiece.
Best Albums of the 90s – #7
The Road to Ensenada – Lyle Lovett (1996)
Lyle Lovett’s sixth album, The Road to Ensenada, was the logical culmination of everything he’d done before. It struck a balance between his country and jazz sides, leaning a bit toward the former, but it didn’t have the schizophrenic feel of And His large Band… or Pontiac.
On those records, Lovett basically dedicated a side apiece to his country work and another side to his big band and gospel sound. On Joshua Judges Ruth he scaled the country back and sometimes strayed too far into sleepy ballad territory.
So we have reached the final installment in my 20-day series on great albums. Singing us out is Lyle Lovett and his 1996 album The Road to Ensenada.
Lovett’s albums tend to suffer from multiple personality disorder. His influences are so broad and his style so far-reaching that his records often end up as a hodgepodge of great ideas. He dabbles in country, jazz, blues, rock and gospel, making for wonderful songs but schizophrenic albums.
The Road to Ensenada avoids that confusion. It’s a straightforward collection of traditional country and honky-tonk and, though it is less expansive than his earlier work, it remains the best thing he has ever done.
Last September, during a Lyle Lovett theme week, I singled out one song from his album The Road the Ensenada and promised to highlight two other songs — the album’s best — on future dates. I fulfilled half of the promise in November, when I featured ‘Her First Mistake‘ as a Song of the Day. Today I complete the mission.
For my money, the title track of The Road the Ensenada is possibly the finest song Lovett has ever written, and among the finest I’ve ever heard. That’s high praise for a relatively simple song but Lovett is no stranger to high praise, at least from this corner.