There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
When Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts shocked the world and tied the knot, I’m sure I wasn’t the only guy to look deep within himself and ask, “Wow, I wonder what Julia Roberts looks like naked?” Then, of course, followed the equally pertinent query, “How does a man with an unmade bed for a face land a woman whose smile could stop time?” But after listening to Lovett’s new offering, The Road to Ensenada, the odd magic behind that once-blessed, since-crumbled union becomes clear: Despite his fright-wig ’do and scrunchy mug, Lovett is unfathomably cool, a master of understatement and reserve. Ensenada is a breakup album, no doubt about that; Lovett himself has admitted as much. But trying to find gossipy ruminations or bitter jabs eventually proves futile: Lovett’s enigmatic, often amusing lyrics are not exactly fodder for the National Enquirer. He’s much too smart for that. On the bouncy, twangy “Fiona,” Lovett’s pet name for Roberts (don’t ask me how I know this), he croons, “Way down yonder on the bay-o/There lives a little girl-o/Skin so pale/Six feet high/Skinny as a rail,” and then adds, “Just one eye.” And there lies the appeal of the album: Just what in the hell is he trying to say about the Pretty Woman? With the exception of “Her First Mistake,” a slick bossa nova tale of twisted romance, Lovett has returned full-fledged to his offbeat country roots (“Don’t Touch My Hat” and “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas)” sound like George Strait with a ballsy kick). All of this, plus catchy hooks aplenty, makes the brilliant Ensenada come off like a glaring fuck you to Hollywood, the mainstream, and life under the harsh tabloid spotlight.—Sean Daly