“After Steve Earle redrew a handful of musical maps with 1997’s El Corazon, it was surprising to hear the troubadour team with Del McCoury on the unabashed bluegrass set The Mountain. In truth, El Corazon paved the way for Transcendental Blues. Here Earle returns back to the sprawl of El Corazon. There’s Spartan, yearning folk in “Over Yonder,” boot-scooting ‘grass on “Until the Day I Die,” and ear-pinning rock on “Everyone’s in Love with You.” Earle rescues the connection between Ireland and American traditionalism with the mandolin-driven “Galway Girl” and even seems inspired by fables with “The Boy Who Never Cried.” Earle shows again and again that he’s a consummate indexer, demonstrating how American music crisscrosses distinct styles. As a singer, Earle is alternately snarly, wispy, guttural, and earnest. In short, he’s able to shake the ear with a fresh musical twist and then settle the listener with all the broad-minded smarts he’s relied upon since his mid-’90s comeback.”–Andrew Bartlett

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