Earl Pickens & Family cover The Joshua Tree

I’ve been a fan of pretty much every Earl Pickens project I’ve heard over the past several years - from the shimmering alt. country of the Turn On The Radio EP in 2007 to the garage/power-pop of The Sweetbriars’ debut last year to the handful of quirky homemade videos he’s made. Everything he does is marked by a strong sense of melody, a unique and entertaining showmanship, and a genuine love of old-fashioned country music. So it should come as no surprise that the recently recorded full-length countrified version of U2’s The Joshua Tree is such a winner. And that's saying a lot considering The Joshua Tree is one of the oldest CDs in my collection - it was the 4th disc I ever bought (1. Def Leppard's Hysteria, 2. The Soundtrack to the movie Ford Fairlane, 3. Rattle & Hum!) and I shoveled snow all afternoon to earn the cash. Pickens makes sure that the timeless songs from U2’s best album sound right at home as twangy country shuffles & folk-rock ballads.

Billed as Earl Pickens & Family and recorded over a few days in Earl’s living room, the recording re-imagines every song from the classic album - from the Johnny Cash-inspired spoken word intro on “Where The Streets Have No Name” to a folk-blues version of “Bullet The Blue Sky” to an achingly pretty version of “Running To Stand Still” that features Jessie Yamas on shared lead vocals and some fine mandolin work. It’s not really a surprise that mega-hits such as “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “With Or Without You” sound great being led with acoustic guitars, banjos, and fiddles, but even some of the lesser known songs from the flipside are brightened up in this sonic setting. And the real highlight may actually be a hidden version of “The Sweetest Thing” tacked on after “Mothers of the Disappeared”, with Pickens bringing out the popular b-side’s hooks to startlingly effective results. I can’t imagine fans of country music finding a better album to sing along with this year.

Stream :: Where The Streets Have No Name
Stream :: Bullet the Blue Sky
(from The Joshua Tree by Earl Pickens & Family. Buy here)

Earl & The Family are playing a WFUV sponsored show at The Living Room in NYC next Tuesday (6/9) where they will play their version of The Joshua Tree in its entirety.

“Where The Streets Have No Name”


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