Satisfied at Last by Joe Ely

Newcomers to Joe Ely’s music might tell you he sounds like Bruce Springsteen, and that’d be an understandable misunderstanding—you’ll hear sober, sandpapery vocals, stories of truth-seeking ramblers and artistic sensitivity overlaid with a crusty roots-rock edge.

Springsteen himself, however, is a Joe Ely fan from way back whose music more closely resembles the Austin-based musician’s work with each album. But while Springsteen’s recordings chronicle his gradual mellowing process, Ely’s serve as chapters of the same Texas alt-country book—a book he helped write.

On Satisfied at Last, he assembles a who’s who of his musical associates and delivers a collection of songs that celebrate upper-middle age and the freedom that time and a heightened perspective can bring. The reggae-tinged “Roll Again” confidently gambles on the possibility of second chances, while the title track ponders the elusive nature of contentment, pitting an emotive Mexican six-string against roaring, rock guitar chords in a perfect microcosm of the signature Ely sound. It’s a formula sure to satisfy any fan—even Bruce.

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