You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the boy...
Sue Keogh 2003
My Baby Don't Tolerate is Lyle Lovett's first album of new music since 1996's Grammy Award-winning Road To Enseñada. In a press conference earlier this year the ever self-deprecating Long Tall Texan put this seven year glitch down to 'Dumbness...laziness' but in truth he has been very busy of late. Whilst quietly amassing the material for My Baby Don't Tolerate he had a heap of other projects on the go; his excellent tribute to fellow Texan singer-songwriters, Step Inside This House, the Live In Texas album, Smile, a diverse collection of his contributions to film soundtracks, some music for his old buddy Robert Altman's film Dr. T & The Women and a continuation of his acting career with a role in The New Guy. Then there was that nasty incident involving a bull with very sharp horns and a dislike of Lovett's sophisticated style of country music which put him in hospital for several weeks. But he got here in the end.
Those who bought Cowboy Man: Anthology Volume One will recognise ''The Truck Song'' and ''San Antonio Girl'', two brilliant little Western Swing gems which were included on this greatest hits collection as a taster for things to come. Melodically they're basically the same song, and both offer flashes of Lovett's intellect, gentle humour and reluctance to let rhyming conventions get in the way of a good story ('I've been to Paris / And I don't mean Texas/ I met Wim Wenders/ one time in London').
Apart from these two tracks, co-produced with Tony Brown, it is long time collaborator Billy Williams who joins Lovett at the mixing desk. The musicians are familiar too. There's no horn section, but Large Band members Matt Rollings and Viktor Krauss are back on keyboards and bass, and Francine Reed and Sweet Pea Atkinson add vocals to the two gospel numbers which close the show. Choice session musicians including Paul Franklin (steel), Stuart Duncan (fiddle) and Sam Bush (mandolin), who often joins Lovett's touring band, are there too. On top of this already polished bed of music flows Lovett's ever velvety and gentlemanly vocal, adding that special gleam that makes all his albums such dignified affairs.
He takes the opportunity to further explore two familiar themes - relationships with beautiful, interesting women and his love for the minutiae of life in Texas. At one point he does take a rare look outside his home state for inspiration, with ''Nashville'', but it is only with a wry eye ('They live in Nashville/ They drive a coupe de ville/ They all take little pills/ On a Saturday night'). You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the boy...