Lyle Lovett Natural Forces

Those of us wishing Lyle Lovett would return to the sparse sound of his early country folk solo albums continue to be disappointed. He is as idiosyncratically eclectic as ever, and the results are mixed. Goofy romp "Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel" should have been left on the cutting room floor, along with the decidedly clumsy "It's Rock And Roll." Lovett is many things but a convincing rocker he isn't, and the line "the little teeny-boppers will beg for one night stands" doesn't ring true either. Thankfully, he redeems himself with a pretty cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Loretta" and strong new originals "Empty Blues Shoes" and "Natural Forces," a song sporting the immortal line, "home is where my horse is." There's a surprising amount of outside material, including songs from David Ball, Eric Taylor and Vince Bell. Unsurprising is the elite nature of the session players (Russ Kunkel, Matt Rollings, Sam Bush, Viktor Krauss, Stuart Duncan and Dean Parks). It's an uneven record, but has enough satisfying moments for the Lovett lovers out there. (Lost Highway)