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Review: Joe Ely offers songs of honesty, hope and healing


This cover image released by Rack’em Records shows “Love in the Midst of Mayhem” by Joe Ely. (Rack’em Records via AP)

This cover image released by Rack’em Records shows “Love in the Midst of Mayhem” by Joe Ely. (Rack’em Records via AP)

Joe Ely, “Love In the Midst of Mayhem” (Rack ‘Em Records)

Joe Ely’s remains are guardians, as “Love In the Midst of Mayhem” shows.

Drenched by the coronavirus – the “pandamnit”, as Ely calls it – the troubadour of West Texas began to rummage through his notebook of songs that had not yet found a home. The material formed the basis of “Love In the Midst of Mayhem”, 10 heart-warming songs about honesty, hope and healing. “A song is the pain of a poet,” sings Ely on the opening cup, “Soon all your sorrows will disappear.”

The interior tempos correspond to the way in which the pace of life has slowed down, but the set loaded with ballads, mainly acoustic, always offers variety. The Tex-Mex guitar alleviates the despair of “Don’t Worry About It” and a carnival coda punctuated “Glare of Glory”, while accordion virtuoso Joel Guzman colors corners everywhere.

It is also helpful that Ely, 73, has a great voice. His dusty tenor floats on the devotional waltz “You Can Rely on Me”, but strikes the consonants with New York intensity in the marvelous “Garden of Manhattan”.

Ely’s voice is somber on a heartbreaking song called “Cry”, and he lets out the last verse, summing up the sound of 2020.

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Source: AP News

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