Living up to his reputation as the voice of Americana, Steve Earle comments on a post-Sept.
Living up to his reputation as the voice of Americana, Steve Earle comments on a post-Sept. 11 world with the gravity and complexity that the subject deserves. Unabashedly political, Jerusalem decries the deterioration of civil liberties in the wake of the terrorist attacks, questions the moral self-righteousness that can pass for patriotism, and expresses the hope that, at the crossroads of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, "the lion and the lamb will lie down in peace together." The album even takes a sympathetic view of American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh in "John Walker's Blues," the controversial first single, which quotes the Qu'ran in its choruses. Like Leonard Cohen's 1992 opus The Future*—which foreshadowed the demise of Yugoslavia and the atrocities it engendered—Jerusalem raises questions that are better asked now than when it's too late. A painful but ultimately healing look in the mirror for a people disfigured by tragedy.—PV