Steve Earle, Allison Moorer

Leave it to Steve Earle to make a rock-the-vote record that sounds as good in the cold light of Bush II as it did last fall. "Voting is vital," Earle writes in The Revolution Starts Now's liner notes, "but in times like these voting alone simply isn't enough." So he offers gallows-humor blues from the killing fields of Basra, folk-rock jangle about the world turning around and an outré love letter to Condoleezza Rice, all of which still vibrates with purpose. On The Duel, opener Allison Moorer mines a rich country-soul vein not unlike the one her sister Shelby Lynne's been in lately, though she'll rock much harder live.
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Mikael Wood