New Lovett Album Due In September
Revered singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett will have a new MCA studio album out in September. Speaking yesterday Thursday with Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith during a panel at the South By Southwest (SXSW) music conference in Austin, Texas, Lovett indicated that he and his band have finished recording the bulk of the as-yet-untitled set, with only some overdubs and the mixing process still ahead.
The album will be Lovett’s first studio album of all new material since 1996’s “Road to Ensenada.” When asked about the delay, the soft-spoken, self-deprecating artist quipped, “Dumbness… laziness,” before explaining that he intentionally took his time with the set. “I wanted to wait until I had a group of songs that I wanted to record.
“I’m never happy with the songs that I had to push myself to do,” he said, adding that he’s already begun performing some of the new material during his live shows. As mainstream radio airplay is rare for him, Lovett credits progressive outlets such as Austin’s own KGSR and similarly formatted stations around the country for helping him to reach his audience. “They play enough of my music and people show up. That’s a wonderful feeling.”
Currently, Lovett has “Smile,” a compilation of covers, many from the great American songbook that he’s recorded over the years for use on soundtracks, out in stores. “It gives you the opportunity to approach material that you wouldn’t otherwise approach,” he said of such projects.
In the span between studio albums, Lovett also composed and performed the score for “Dr. T & the Women,” a 2000 film by Robert Altman. Lovett, who has appeared in several of the celebrated director’s films (including “Pret A Porter” and “Cookie’s Fortune”), disagreed when Smith referred to him as an actor, saying, “I have really enjoyed the work I’ve gotten to do with movies, but that’s an overstatement.”
With much talk in Texas about Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines’ recent negative comments about U.S. President George Bush made during a European press outing, Smith asked for Lovett’s opinion on those who use their celebrity as a platform to express political views. He defended Maines, understanding that she probably meant no malice when disavowing her shared Texas roots with the former governor turned world leader. She has since apologized for the incident.
“I think there are appropriate times and appropriate people to speak out” on such things as an impending U.S.-led war against Iraq, Lovett said, pointing to 1960s anti-war advocates Bob Dylan and Joan Baez as “artists who were and are groundbreaking in their thought. But, just because you have the forum [to make political comment], doesn’t mean you always should. It’s certainly not part of your mission statement as a musician.”
“I think that the government knows more about these things than I do. I trust that the president knows more,” he said of the current situation in Iraq. “But, at the same time, I really hope that we don’t have to fire a shot over there.”