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Texas troubadour Joe Ely has been making earthy, insightful music since the late ‘70s, when his tangy brew of country, Tex-Mex and rock’n’roll led to a friendship with British punk stalwarts The Clash. Still going strong today, he conceived and quickly recorded Love in the Midst of Mayhem recently in response to the pandemic, gathering overlooked original songs spanning 1973 to 2019. The result is a typically satisfying Ely set, telling vivid tales of frayed lives that give free rein to his laconic, tender voice. Despite an occasional detour into melodrama, he remains a reassuring presence whose easy blend of weary stoicism and gentle empathy suggests everything will eventually turn out more or less ok, which doesn’t sound like bad news at all.
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