The Low Highway

You can hear the road in Steve Earle's voice, a craggy rumble with a whole lot of mileage on it. But that voice is also a finely cadenced instrument, perfect for the burly roots rock, Dylan-style roadhouse blues and jaunty bluegrass-ragtime of his 15th LP. The Low Highway doesn't always fulfill his ambitions; the title track aims for a Guthrie-esque grandeur it doesn't reach. But there's no arguing with Earle's singing, or sharp, often beautiful, songwriting, which stretches from a love letter to a child ("Remember Me") to "Burnin' It Down," a tale of a small-town guy who dreams of torching the local Walmart.