Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band

The Mountain

  • E-Squared

The post-prison Steve Earle career renaissance continues with this exquisite bluegrass collaboration with the esteemed Del McCoury Band. Inspired by the late great Bill Monroe, the album finds Earle and company tearing through banjo-riding raves like the set-opening “Texas Eagle,” the fiddle-fired “Harlan Man,” and “Carrie Brown,” which Earle accurately describes as a “real-live-bad-tooth-hillbilly-murder ballad,” in his liner notes.

In those same notes he calls the title track one of the best songs he's ever written, and he's absolutely right. But even that doesn't come near the beauty of “Pilgrim,” a gospel-styled song of faith, penned the morning of bassist Roy Huskey's funeral. It features Emmylou Harris on harmonies, and closes the set with reverence.

Kevin O'Hare