Steve Earle can write a political song that actually does more than just preach and irritate. Maybe it's the storytelling that bolsters his consideration of what soldiers endure on his latest, The Revolution Starts . . . Now. In "Rich Man's War," three blue-collar workers answer a call from their country. "Home to Houston" tells the story of a trucker hauling gas out of Basra, swearing never to drive a truck again if he can just make it home alive. It's heavy stuff, but Earle deftly mixes it with rocking melody and vocal experimentation ("The Revolution Starts Now"), the lushness of Emmylou Harris's classic sound ("Comin' Around"), and downright painful love ("I Thought You Should Know"). Earle is shamelessly opinionated, yet he deserves respect. Forget Americana or the country-crossover bullshit. Steve Earle is full-on rock and roll.