Home Read Classic Album Review: Joe Ely | Streets of Sin

Classic Album Review: Joe Ely | Streets of Sin

The hard-working Texas roots-rocker drops a disc of fanfares for the common man.


This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


After 30 years in music, plenty of artists are long out of touch with their common-man roots. Not Joe Ely.

Even though he’s put out more than a dozen albums, toured with everyone from his own supergroup The Flatlanders to The Clash and achieved near-godlike status in his home state of (where else?) Texas, Ely has never generated enough hits to make him bigger than his britches. In many ways, he’s still a regular-joe working stiff like the rest of us. And his latest CD Streets of Sin is a fanfare for the common man. These dozen roots-rock songs tell what the Ely calls “stories from the B-section of the newspaper” — hardscrabble tales of failed family farms, raging floodwaters, drifting carnies, gamblers hoping for a lucky break and simple folk just trying to get by. With their earthy melodies and varied arrangements, which range from the Springsteenish heartland rock of Fightin’ For My Life to the jazzbo spoken-word of Carnival Bum and the rockabilly of 95 South, these tunes make it clear Ely hasn’t lost touch — or lost his touch.


Previous articleClassic Album Review: Soft Canyon | Broken Spirit, I Will Mend Your Wings
Next articleClassic Album Review: Kitchens & Bathrooms | Vehicles Beyond