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Saturday, September 6, 2008

CD Review: Steve Haggard - Love Conquers All

Steve Haggard - Love Conquers All
2008, Wild Oats Records

Steve Haggard is a rare talent in country music these days. Eschewing the pop and circumstance that tends to flow freely from Nashville like waste water into a river, Haggard mixes a blend of country, rock, blues, rockabilly, folk and Americana that is uniquely original and accessible. On Love Conquers All, his sixth release on Wild Oats Records, Steve Haggard raises the bar a notch higher with a wonderfully warm roots album that is not to be missed.

Haggard has a warm country voice and easy delivery that make him a pleasure to listen to. He has built a superb backing band that I'd put up against most any outfit in or out of Nashville. Steve Haggard is a musical maverick in much the same light as Lyle Lovett. Songs like If She Only Had A Heart, Cheating County Blues and Gonna Make A Believer Out Of You show off the more rockabilly side of Steve Haggard's muse. Haggard shows a quieter side on Trust In Love, Might Have To Die (To Make You Miss Me) and Renegade. Haggard also pulls a pleasant surprise with a superb cover of Forever Young.

Mysterious Ways Part III and Part II are an interesting tandem of songs as well. These might be the most commercial of songs here, with identical music but different lyrics. I am not sure whether one is a continuation of the other or whether these are alternative song ideas, but they work, and I would not be surprised to hear either song in a movie or on television in the coming year.

Steve Haggard is not someone I was familiar with before the early part of this year, but I have quickly gained significant respect for him as a musician. The aforementioned Lyle Lovett is one of my absolutely favorite songwriters (along with names like Billy Joel, Randy Newman, Gordon Matthew Sumner (Sting), Ron Hawkins and Jason Plumb. I don't know if Steve Haggard is quite in that class, but he certainly belongs in the conversation. Love Conquers All is what country music aspires to when it's not busy selling the latest pop sensation to MTV. Steve Haggard is what Nashville dreams longingly it could still be.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Steve Haggard at Love Conquers All is a forthcoming release. Keep checking back at Wildy Oats Records website for further information.

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