Lyle Lovett

I Love Everybody

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Lyle Lovett's 1992 album, Joshua Judges Ruth, was a highly ambitious project for the Texas-born singer/songwriter -- perhaps too ambitious, since despite the album's beautiful surfaces, the results simply weren't especially absorbing. Released in 1994, I Love Everybody seemed to find Lovett taking a step back -- it consists of 18 tunes Lovett had written prior to the recording of his first album -- but for the most part it succeeds where Joshua Judges Ruth disappoints, largely because the songs offer enough changeups to keep the listener engaged at all times. Also, for a set of tunes that were apparent leftovers, the writing on I Love Everybody is startlingly strong, from the saucy "Hello Grandma" and "Record Lady" to the stark and edgy storytelling of "I Think You Know What I Mean" and "The Fat Girl." The album also offers up plenty of Lovett's trademark dour humor and playfully sinister undertones; the title song was originally intended to be "Creeps Like Me," and it's hard to decide if one should laugh or frown in disgust while listening to it. And like Joshua Judges Ruth, I Love Everybody is dominated by clean, stripped-down arrangements and transparent production, but the players bring a lot more spirit and swing to these sessions (top honors go to bassist John Leftwich and drummer Russ Kunkel, a superb and soulful acoustic rhythm section), and the dynamics bring more drama to the performances rather than weighing them down. I Love Everybody is just eccentric enough to be best recommended to folks already familiar with Lovett's work, but anyone attuned to his sensibility will find plenty to enjoy here -- and a little to make you a shade uncomfortable.

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