Lyle Lovett has made some fine music over the years, and I haven't heard all of it, but I'm doubtful that he's produced another album as consistently good as this one, his first second. I had forgotten how good it is until yesterday, when I listened to it on the way over and back to watch a Mardi Gras parade. Except for the disappointing last track, "She's Hot to Go", which is about as lightweight and crass as the title suggests, every song is top-notch, both lyrically and musically. Moreover, the recorded sound has a warmth and depth which seems to be missing from most recordings of the past fifteen or twenty years (Pontiac is from the mid-'80s).
I seem to recall there being some confusion about exactly how to take Lovett when he first appeared. Was he country? Sort of, but jazzy, too. Was he being ironic all the time, or only sometimes? Was he serious, or a humorist? He was definitely off the beaten track lyrically, which is established with the first track, "If I Had a Boat":
I can't resist quoting this great bit from "She's No Lady", though it's much better when he sings it:
The preacher asked her
And she said I do
The preacher asked me
And she said yes he does too
And the preacher said
I pronounce you 99 to life
Son she's no lady, she's your wife.
And yet the album contains serious and moving songs such as the title one, a brief and troubling portrait that recalls Tom Waits.