Rolling Stone (3/7/96, p.47) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...Though much of the album offers a tour of one man's hell--with Earle as a roadhouse Dante--the songwriter's creative resurgence ultimately supplies his redemption..."
Spin (9/99, p.158) - Ranked #75 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."
Spin (4/96, p.105) - 9 (out of 10) - "...A cautionary threat, I FEEL ALRIGHT gives grief to anybody who doesn't acknowledge life's tragic ambiguity--defeat always shadows victory, sadness always mirrors happiness....He's a passionately volatile SOB and there's a hint of menace in almost every lyric he gets near, no matter how damp with sentiment..."
Entertainment Weekly (3/8/96, p.64) - "...If I FEEL ALRIGHT doesn't deliver the grit that has been Earle's gift to rock and country, his roots-rock joie de vivre sends no apologies, only a healthy message for the '90s: Don't feel bad about feeling good." - Rating: A
Alternative Press (3/01, p.104) - Included in A.P.'s "10 Essential Alt-Country Albums" - "...Earle comes across as a fork-tongued renegade, constantly defiant."
Musician (4/96, p.84) - "...there's a grim undercurrent to Earle's patented bad-boy drawl as he swaggers through these 12 dour Canterbury tales....But Earle...still has a fluid way with a pop-twanging hook that slaps most of his material across..."
Village Voice (2/25/97) - Ranked #6 in the Village Voice's 1996 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
Personnel: Steve Earle (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Custer (vocals, drums, percussion); Lucinda Williams, The Fairfield Four, Logan (vocals); Kris Wilkerson (conductor, arranger); Richard Bennett (guitar, harmonium, percussion); Ray Kennedy (guitar); Carl Gorodetzky, Pamela Sixfin, Richard Grosjean (violin); Lee Larrison (viola); Robert Mason (cello); Ken Moore (organ); Kelley Looney, Garry W. Tallent, Roy Huskey, Jr., Ric Kipp (bass); Greg Morrow (drums, percussion); Rick Schell (drums); Dub Cornett (percussion).
Producers: Ray Kennedy, Richard Bennett, Richard Dodd.
Engineers: Ray Kennedy, Peter Coleman, Richard Dodd.
Recorded at Room & Board and Treasure Isle, Nashville, Tennessee. Includes liner notes by Steve Earle.
Personnel: Steve Earle (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Custer (vocals, drums, percussion); Logan, Lucinda Williams, The Fairfield Four (vocals); Richard Bennett (guitar, harmonica, harmonium, percussion); Ray Kennedy (guitar); Richard Grosjean, Carl Gorodetzky, Pamela Sixfin (violin); Lee Larrison (viola); Robert Mason (cello); Ken Moore (organ); Roy M. "Junior" Husky, Garry Tallent, Ric Kipp, Kelly Looney (bass guitar); Greg Morrow (drums, percussion); Rick Schell (drums); Dub Cornett (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Ray Kennedy; Richard Dodd.
Recording information: Room & Board, Nashville, TN; Treasure Isle Studios, Nashville, TN.
Photographers: Nancy Lee Andrews; Lee Andrews; Ray Kennedy.
Unknown Contributor Role: Siobhan Maher.
Arranger: Kris Wilkinson String Section.
I FEEL ALRIGHT is country-rocker Steve Earle's first album of new material following a well-documented five-year residency on the wrong side of the Nashville tracks. Like TRAIN A COMIN', the acoustic set of folk and pop covers with which he made his quiet return a year earlier, this full-band record offers no apologies. It does offer a rocking reclamation of all the blues, folk and country Springsteenisms and Dylanisms that made Earle's return worth waiting for.
One of its highlights is a searing, acoustic blues number, "CCKMP," on which Earle declares himself free of most of his former demons. The title stands for "cocaine cannot kill my pain"; the incredibly dark punch line dryly notes that heroin still can. Earle's voice is a blurry twang in which all those demons seem to have left a residue. When on the rollicking opening cut he announces that, "I've been to hell and now I'm back again/I feel alright," you know he means it, but you don't know if he's strong enough to hold on. Which, ironically, is the source of I FEEL ALRIGHT's power. These are songs that seek, in folk and rock and blues, the kind of redemption that life itself can't always offer.
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