Worth the wait: New songs from Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, in Morristown

Lyle Lovett at MPAC, July 27, 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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It’s been a decade between albums for Lyle Lovett.

The wait was worth it.

Lovett and His Large Band, frequent flyers at Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center, returned Wednesday and performed some of the Texan’s greatest hits:  If I Had a Boat, My Baby Don’t Tolerate, Walk Through the Bottomland, She’s Already Made Up Her Mind, That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas).

But the ones that really grabbed me this time around were from his new album, 12th of June, recorded just before COVID-19 and released this spring.

Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin. Click/hover on images for captions:

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Pants Is Overrated is goofy fun… who needs pants in a pandemic, anyway? Pig Meat Man is a paean to pork, specifically, bacon — a favorite food of Lovett’s son.

Droll and deadpan, Lovett also knows how to lasso your heart. When that strange and lonesome voice–honey-dipped tumbleweeds skipping across the prairie–laments, you feel this cowboy’s pain.

And when he goes tender, oh man. Lovett made a wisecrack about being a sensitive guy. But he wasn’t kidding.

Her Loving Man is an earnest country ballad that sums up the contradictions of love:

We might fight
We might argue
We might disagree
But I’ll tell you
How it’s bound to be
I can love her
Or hate her
But I’ll see her later
And worship her
On bended knee

The album’s title song is a sublime reflection on fatherhood; good luck finding a sweeter one. Lovett introduced 12th of June with a story about his family’s cemetery, curiously, a happy place where his kinfolk picnicked in his youth. The 64-year-old singer and actor spoke of making more memories there with his twins.

He was pushing 60 when they were born, on the 12th of June, and this song is infused with joy as he contemplates the immortality children represent.

And to these beautiful two children
And to my sweet and tender wife
I will love you three forever
Though I fly beyond this life
Though I fly beyond this life
By the branch at San Jacinto
Play for me a happy tune
Know of all the days I loved
I loved best the 12th of June

Lyle Lovett has been making great albums since 1986. But as he made clear on Wednesday, his best days are ahead of him.

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