Early in his career, singer-songwriter Steve Earle was often compared to Bruce Springsteen and widely viewed as a savior of country music. But after a string of enduring hits in the '80s, he bottomed out early in the next decade, winding up in jail on drug and firearms charges. He's since returned to glory in a big way, releasing a string of widely adored albums and becoming one of the most outspoken and compelling figures in contemporary music. Hear Earle perform a concert from WXPN and World Café Live in Philadelphia.
Since returning to music in the mid-'90s, Earle has set up his own record label and experimented with a wide range of styles, from country and bluegrass to folk and rock music. In recent years, his work has grown increasingly political, addressing war, religion and politics with a decidedly populist bent. The new Washington Square Serenade draws on themes of war, pollution and immigration, while maintaining a sense of optimism that balances out the weighty subject matter.