Renowned Austin troubadour Joe Ely hasn’t put out a new album since 2015’s acclaimed “Panhandle Rambler,” but that will change on Friday with the release of “Love in the Midst of Mayhem,” he announced on Tuesday.
The digital-only set, via Smith Entertainment, gathers songs Ely had begun at various times over the course of his five-decade musical career. He finished them in the past few weeks as he had time to revisit them during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had so much time on our hands with everything shut down,” Ely said in a press release announcing the album. “Initially, I was only going to release a couple of songs, but more songs kept coming together that fit where we are in the world right now.”
Ely, who put our the archival set “The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle” in 2018, has never issued a new album with such immediacy before, but “these are different times,” he added in the press statement. “I wanted these songs to be heard now rather than in six months.”
RELATED: Our 2015 interview with Joe Ely
The track list features songs that date to the 1970s (“There’s Never Been,” “Soon All Your Sorrows Be Gone”) and 1980s (“Cry”), as well as several written since his last album came out, including “A Man and His Dog,” “Don’t Worry About It” and “You Can Rely on Me.” Ely wrote all the songs on his own except “All You Are Love,” a 2012 tune he wrote with his longtime Flatlanders bandmates Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock.
Among the musicians who appear on the recordings are guitarists Mitch Watkins, Rob Gjersoe and Bradley Kopp; bassists Roscoe Beck, Glenn Fukunaga, Gary Herman and Jimmy Pettit; drummers Davis McLarty, Pat Manske and Steve Meador; and keyboardists Joel Guzman, Reese Wynans and the late Bill Ginn.