by: PAMELA GANDY/Entertainment Editor
Joe Ely’s latest album features touching lyrics and traditional country instrumentation to highlight his West Texas roots with a contemporary sound.
The Lubbock native released his newest album, “Panhandle Rambler,” on Sept. 18. The album’s lyrics showcase Ely’s western lifestyle, while still having a modern aspect. The album features 12 songs, all reflecting Ely’s talent as a storyteller and lyricist.
“Panhandle Rambler” is different from Ely’s previous albums because it has more of a contemporary feeling, rather than an old country sound.
The most exceptional song on the album is “Wounded Creek,” which narrates Ely’s encounter with a runaway girl. What makes the song truly exceptional is its ability to tell a complete story in under four minutes. This is largely because of the instrumentation, and the consistent feature of the guitar. The arrangement helps to create a strong mental image for the listener, which supports the lyrics and enhances the tone of the song. The song infuses a haunting sound into the traditional country style, making it really unique. It is the first song on the album, which entices the audience to keep listening.
The other memorable track is “Here’s to the Weary,” a slightly faster-paced song. This song focuses on the lives of the laborers who Ely compares to slaves. Ely commends them by saying, “Here’s to the weary and the restless souls, chasing some crazy dream,” which reflects on his appreciation toward the individuals who have spent their whole lives working. This song is especially relatable. Unlike many popular songs, which emphasize superiority of the wealthy, “Here’s to the Weary” recognizes those who work hard to earn a living. It is a realistic representation of American citizens, who work hard in the hopes of gaining better opportunities.
All of the songs on this album are entertaining because they provoke emotions for the listener. Ely’s talent as a narrator really shines in this album.
All of the songs, while being different in meaning, seem to be connected. They seem to tell the story of Ely’s life and experiences in West Texas, making this album all the more personal. This album is one that many different people would enjoy.
All of the songs on the album create a strong mental image. The combination of Ely’s vocals and the traditionally country rhythm and instrumentation give the album a very old western style. It incorporates the West Texas atmosphere into all of the songs, while the lyrics give the album a contemporary feel. The mix of old and new is refreshing, making this album especially rare and commendable.