- Recording information: Electric Lady Studios, New York, NY.
- Alt-country king Steve Earle documents some major life changes on WASHINGTON SQUARE SERENADE. In the time between this album and its 2004 predecessor, Earle married singer-songwriter Allison Moorer, and the Texas-bred Nashville rebel moved to New York's Greenwich Village (hence the album title). These alterations are represented by the songs here, including odes to Earle's new home town and love ballads presumably written for Moorer.
- The album marks a turning point on the sonic level as well. Earle, who says Moorer likened his usual old-school production techniques to civil war re-enactments, enlisted L.A.'s Dust Brothers (of Beastie Boys and Beck fame) to help update his methods. While SERENADE is far from hip-hop, there are some subtle electronic touches amid the rampant rootsiness, and there's more cut-and-paste cerebralism than garage-rock gusto to the arrangements. It all adds up to one small step for Earle, and if not one giant leap for 21st-century Americana, then certainly a lengthy stride.
Rolling Stone (p.77) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t impacts just like any other Steve Earle record -- lyrics first....[With] two fine love songs to Earle's wife, harmony-singing Allison Moorer...."
Spin (p.100) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[A]s he shows on 'Days Aren't Long Enough' and 'Sparkle and Shine,' the man can still write a damn pretty love song."
Entertainment Weekly (p.105) - "SERENADE is awash in unexpected grace notes....A love letter to his new home." -- Grade: B+
Uncut (p.106) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Layering acoustic and electric guitars over vaguely hip hop beats, much of it sounds like Earle taking stock of his new home and nodding his approval....It's all invigorating, wonderful stuff."
Magnet (p.93) - "[T]he most convincing songs on WASHINGTON SERENADE are about love, devotion, messing up, and simply wanting to be heard."