Steve Earle is a rebel. Not in the Hollywood/James Dean/Easy Rider/rebel-against-society sense, but rather in a real and personal way. Throughout his life and career he has rebelled against the very industry that surrounded him and did not find the freedom he sought until he started his own label, E-Squared. He rebelled against his common sense and his health in search of true American artistry and did not find the freedom he sought until he hit the bottom of addiction, and he continues to rebel against mainstream American culture and politics with his attitudes and songs; Transcendental Blues is no exception. Transcendental Blues walks the line between Steve Earle the country-rock rebel who gave the world Copperhead Road and Guitar Town and Steve Earle the traditionalist who opened a new chapter in bluegrass with his last release, The Mountain. This album rocks with songs like "Everyone's in Love with You" and "All My Life." It soothes with "The Boy Who Never Cried" and "Lonelier Than This," and it two-steps with new country like "The Galway Girl" and "Until the Day I Die." Fans of alternative country music sing the praises of artists like Charlie Robison, Jack Ingram, and Robert Earl Keen, Jr., but Earle proves again and again that he is the original alternative to the glossy side of Nashville. Earle cut the path that all his followers thankfully hike along, avoiding the weeds and branches that made him what he is today.
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AllMusic Review by Michael Cusanelli