TREAT YOURSELF to the first peek at what a fully growed up – and still sober – Steve Earle is up to these days. His first album of original material in four years, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, is just out and a novel of the same name follows in May. The book is about Hank Williams’ quack doctor Doc Ebersole, and the album, originally a separate project, continues the book’s exploration of ducking death if you can. He has biting words on abortion, Bush, Katrina.

How much it all ties together will have to wait for the book, which is fine because it allows time to keep playing the album over and over. Deliciously New Orleans flavoured, more roots than country and often lyrically nuanced, it was recorded in five days – as more albums should be – with the ubiquitous T-Bone Burnett.    Publisher’s Weekly interview