Joe Ely
"Settle For Love"
by Johanna J. Bodde

JOE ELY   "Settle For Love"   (Hightone Records)

In recent times he played himself in the picture again as one of The Flatlanders, but let's on no account forget that Joe Ely also has his own shining solo-career! Hightone Records dug into the archives for this "Classic Joe Ely" album. Six songs are taken from "Lord Of The Highway", released in 1987, "Dig All Night" (1988) delivered four tracks and of course there's that little extra: "White Line Fever" from the Merle Haggard tribute "Tulare Dust" and the duet "Love And Danger" with Rosie Flores plus a video of "My Baby Thinks She's French"!
The mix isn't optimum everywhere, but I don't blame anybody for that, as this is older material and it's also the only remark I want to make, this is naturally a masterpiece... Joe Ely is the Springsteen with southern soul in his voice! He is still high on my list of artists who I would love to see live.
Joe himself wrote most of these songs, the rocking titletrack, classic "Me & Billy The Kid", that melancholy "Maybe She'll Find Me" ("Some lovers are like countries, so far apart"), while "Silver City" unfolds a realistic story. We hear emphatic funky drums (Davis McLarty), a deep smoldering bass (Jimmy Pettit) and beautiful defiant guitarwork (David Grissom), but saxophonist Bobby Keys gets still -almost twenty years after the recording took place- the largest feather in his cap from me, for his excellent playing on "Are You Listenin', Lucky" and "Letter To L.A.". Why isn't the saxophone more often used in the rootsrock??
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, Dutch original of this review previously published on Real Roots Cafe, The Netherlands.