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Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart

Never Gonna Let You Go (Evolver)

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Stacey Earle is Steve Earle's younger sister; she has toured with him and performed on his albums, but her career is on an entirely different arc. Steve is dark, dangerous, and slightly crazed; Stacey is bright, friendly, and almost giddy. This is especially evident on Never Gonna Let You Go, her second album with husband-songwriting partner Mark Stuart.

Never Gonna Let You Go is a luminous feel-good album, guaranteed to make you smile. Most of the tunes are love songs, but they're never monotonous, either musically or lyrically. "If You Want My Love" is a goofy celebration of courtship that combines the duo's playful vocals with a Creedence Clearwater guitar vamp, a western-swing rhythm, and a jug-band kazoo break. "Lay Down" is Earle's cozy ode to the physical side of love that'll have you purring like a cat in a sunbeam. And on "Looking for Fool's Gold," Stuart serves up a punchy bit of folk rock to inform the object of his affection that the treasure she's seeking is "under her nose." "Fishbowl" brings to mind a '30s novelty ballad, with its swooping bass line and tack piano solo, while the title tune echoes the "beat music" of the British Invasion, but with a country twist that makes it -- and the rest of this record -- pure Earle and Stuart.

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