Sony - 2002 - 36 minutes

Continuing with the rockier route he returned to so successfully on 2000's 'Transcendental Blues', Earle's latest is his most political to date.

Alternating between poking at America's bruises ('Amerika v. 6.0', 'Conspiracy Theory') and explorations of love ('Go Amanda', 'I Remember You'), it's a stirring record which snapshots people unsure of where to turn.

Lyrics like "every tower ever built tumbles" and the study of wasted youth 'John Walker's Blues' will hardly win him any new fans in middle America or the country lobby, but the arguments here need to be raised now more than ever. And, crucially, it's an album which knows you can say as much with an amp as a soapbox and never comes across as too knowing for its own good.

Springsteen was hailed for the healing of power of his post 9/11 album 'The Rising'. It is a powerful collection, but Earle's is a far most compelling one.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Ashes to Ashes - Amerika v. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do) -Conspiracy Theory - John Walker's Blues - The Kind - What's a Simple Man to Do - The Truth - Go Amanda - I Remember You - Shadowland - Jerusalem