If one believes his record label, Tom Russell
who's been called "the greatest living country songwriter" has "shaken off his folk troubadour
shackles." But while the characters in his narrative tunes (including honor-bound cock-fighters, businessmen-turned-drifters, early R&B singers and Russell's own grandfather) are often shackled in some way, the songwriter's muse has rarely seemed constrained. Far from the cowboy-noir that may be his only vice, Russell's new Love & Fear
might be his most personal album, yet retains his gifts for tale-spinning and stately melody and between singing about fat men and aging boxers, Russell can't seem to ditch those crusty characters. Old habits, thankfully, die hard.