Lyle Lovett gets intimate again with Acoustic Group at Belly Up Aspen
Special to The Aspen Times
IF YOU GO …
Who: Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Tuesday, March 3, 9 p.m.
How much: $98-$315
Tickets: Belly Up box office; bellyupaspen.com
Lyle Lovett has deployed his touring musicians in various configurations at his regular Aspen stops, ranging from a small acoustic combo to his 16-member Large Band that headlined Jazz Aspen’s June festival in 2018.
“I just appreciate them so much,” Lovett, who will headline Belly Up on Tuesday with his Acoustic Group, said of his touring musicians. “I mean, nothing gives me a greater thrill in my musical life than to get to stand in the middle of them and listen to them. I get to do that every night. So just to stand there and listen to them think, that’s really what it amounts to, it’s just fun.”
But it’s been some time since he’s had that experience in the studio. Lovett has gone seven years since he last released a studio album.
But an end to the drought of new Lovett music is on the horizon. Because “Release Me” and 2009’s “Natural Forces” were made up mostly of songs written by Lovett’s favorite artists, this will be his first album of primarily original songs since his ninth album, the 2007 release, “It’s Not Big It’s Large.”
The long gap between albums has partly been a function of the titanic changes that have occurred in the music industry since downloading and streaming became primary ways people acquire music.
“Release Me” marked the end of the record deal Lovett signed with MCA/Curb Records (and its parent company, Universal) before releasing his self-titled debut album in 1986. Lovett stepped back to take stock of how the music industry was changing before deciding how he would move forward with releasing new music.
Finally, in November 2018 Lovett signed with Verve Records, a label also owned by Universal, and he said his familiarity with the parent company played a big role in Lovett’s decision.
Lovett may still have some work to do on the next album. But he can say one thing with some certainty. There won’t be a unifying concept to the songs.
“The theme really is just my life experience,” Lovett said. “With just about every song I’ve recorded, I can point to something I’ve experienced, either gone through or something that I observed or happened that was real. And then writing about it is a great way to remember that, really, that experience. Writing about it, in a personal way, for me, it helps me to appreciate some of the things I’ve gotten to live through.”
On a musical level, Lovett said fans can expect the album to feature the kind of diversity that has characterized his previous albums — and the musical range of his live shows. That means the new songs could incorporate any number of styles, including country, soul, blues, bluegrass, rock or horn-accented swing and jazz.
Lovett is approaching the new album with the same goal that’s behind which songs he chooses to perform at each concert and how the songs are arranged for live performance. He wants to showcase his band.
“Most of the players that I am onstage with are the same players I’ll record with,” Lovett said. “My hope is to be able to select songs that will, in the same way that I try to organize the live show, select songs for the recording that will let the audience know this is what you could expect if you come to see us live.
“By the end of the show, I’d like everyone in the audience to feel as though they’ve gotten to know everybody onstage. So that’s really how the arrangements, the live arrangements come from that. It really is a matter of thinking of ways to expand a song or take a song in a direction that would allow someone in the band to be featured. So we might expand some of the solos and include instruments and solo sections that might not be on the recording. It’s a way to say ‘Hey, check this guy out because he’s really good.’”