Retreating to generally quieter territory after the somewhat splashy It's Not Big It's Large, Lyle Lovett also backs away from original tunes on Natural Forces, choosing to devote the bulk of the 11-track album to other writers. Covers are common for Lovett, but not since 1998's Step Inside This House has he spent so much time singing other's songs, and he revisits some of the same composers as before, picking tunes from Townes Van Zandt and Vince Bell, while co-writing "It's Rock and Roll" with Robert Earl Keen. As before, Lyle gravitates toward gentle, moody songs, with Tommy Elskes' slyly sarcastic blues, "Bohemia," being the liveliest of the bunch, opting to give Natural Forces some humor and tempo through his originals, particularly the bawdy, rollicking "Pantry" and the dirty jump blues "Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel." These aren't scattered throughout the record, they act as anchors to a record that wanders down its own quiet, idiosyncratic path, grounding the album and keeping things amiably unpredictable.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine