T-Bone Burnett

Truth Decay

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T-Bone Burnett released Truth Decay for John Fahey's Takoma Records, his first solo effort since 1972. Burnett delivers a collection of parables, tales, and personal struggles propelled by his strong beliefs and some captivating roots rock. "Quicksand," with a rhythm reminiscent of "Ring of Fire," opens the proceedings with a word of caution, and from there Burnett takes you through scenes of international affairs, betrayal, pure and untamed love, need, greed, and resolution. Songs such as "Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk," "Boomerang," and "Love at First Sight" couple sophisticated lyrical content with the simplest of materials (rockabilly, blues, folk, and country), as does the album's best cut, the bare-bones "House of Mirrors," a spoken, state-of-the-times parable in which the protagonist's fate is summed up in a wonderful historical reference. This, along with his passion and reverence for the music -- as well as a willingness to subvert it if necessary -- keeps him from coming across as retro or revivalist. Aside from the more complex material here, Burnett also proves to be equally adept at a more direct lyrical approach. Whereas in the past he would tend to lean toward the abstract, much of Truth Decay, with songs such as "Come Home," "Power of Love," and "Tears Tears Tears," owe as much to the eloquent simplicity of Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, and Willie Dixon as it does to Dylan. Removed from the big label, budget, and expectations of the Alpha Band, T-Bone Burnett produced a modest, passionate gem.

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