Rolling Stone - 12/11/97, p.784 Stars (out of 5)
- "...Earle's strongest statement to date about what makes his heart beat and blood boil....he straddles a bunch of styles with the nimble ease of a homespun visionary who correctly sees that ultimately it's all one..."
Entertainment Weekly - 10/17/97, p.77
"Eleven years after his prescient debut, this prickly alt-country survivor's insights into institutional callousness...romantic longing...and personal iconoclasm...resonate with hard-won wisdom..." - Rating: A-
Village Voice (2/24/98) - Ranked #11
in the Village Voice's 1997 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
Mojo (Publisher) - 6/00, p.43
"If you had to get just one Steve Earle record, then this is it. Stylistically, it covers all of his bases, from acoustic balladry to fuzzed-up grunge and consistently marries brilliant songwriting to brilliant playing..."
Personnel includes: Steve Earle (vocals, guitar, acoustic, electric & 12-string guitars, mandola, harmonica, harmonium); Mark Stuart (vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin, mandola); Brad Jones (vocals, bass); Ross Rice (vocals, drums); Emmylou Harris, Siobhan Kennedy (vocals); David Steele (guitar, electric guitar); Tommy Hannum (pedal steel & steel guitars); Jim Hoke (baritone saxophone); Michael Smotherman (organ); Ray Kennedy (harmonium, hand drum, shaker, tambourine); Roy Huskey Jr. (bass); Brady Blade (drums, percussion, rub board, tambourine); Dancing Eagle (drums); The Fairfield Four, The Supersuckers.
The Del McCoury Band: Del McCoury (vocals, guitar); Ronnie McCoury (vocals, mandolin); Rob McCoury (banjo); Jason Carter (fiddle); Mike Bubb (bass).
Recorded at Room & Board, Nashville, Tennessee and Ironwood Studios, Seattle, Washington. Includes liner notes by Steve Earle.
All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology.
EL CORAZON was nominated for a 1999 Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
Personnel: Steve Earle (vocals, guitar, mandola, harmonica, harmonium); Del McCoury (vocals, guitar); Ronnie McCoury (vocals, mandolin); Ross Rice (vocals, drums); Emmylou Harris (vocals); Mark Stuart (acoustic guitar, mandolin); Justin Townes Earle, Dan Bolton, Renaldo Allegre, David Steele (electric guitar); Tommy Hannum (steel guitar); Rob McCoury (banjo); Jason Carter (fiddle); Ray Kennedy (harmonium, drums, shaker, tambourine); Michael Smotherman (organ); Rev. Brady Blade (drums, washboard, tambourine, percussion); Dancing Eagle (drums).
Unknown Contributor Roles: Supersuckers; The Fairfield Four.
Steve Earle was a country-rock renegade when Uncle Tupelo were still in short pants and NO DEPRESSION was an inscription on a Prozac bottle. EL CORAZON stands as a milestone in the long, checkered career of an artist who's been to hell and back without losing an ounce of his songwriting talent. This uniformly excellent batch of tunes alternates between gentle acoustic ballads and hard-rocking numbers that could give those grunge boys a run for their money. (In fact, Seattle's Supersuckers guest on one track.)
On the opener, "Christmas in Washington," Earle invokes the spirit of bygone heroes like Woody Guthrie and Martin Luther King in service of an unpretentious folk ballad of socio-political discontent. He shows off his storytelling chops on the rocking "Taneytown," supported by the breathy harmonies of Emmylou Harris. The elegiac "Ft. Worth Blues" pays tribute to Earle's old running buddy and primary influence, the late Townes Van Zandt. Throughout, the album lives up to its title, spilling messy emotions all over the place and wallowing in the carnage.