The other reason Love and Danger should introduce Ely to a wider audience has to do with the singer-songwriter's own concept of success. Nothing on Love and Danger feels forced. Tunes like the Grissom-powered pop ballad "Love Is the Beating of Hearts" and the gritty Texas shuffle "Pins and Needles" are as assured as anything Ely has ever committed to tape.

According to Ely, the pressure to succeed, the shadow of being dropped, has evaporated. Now living a remarkably domestic life in Austin with his wife, Sharon, and their daughter, Marie, Ely's idea of "making it" has evolved. Although he's proud of Love and Danger and hopes it does well, Ely says he's no longer scared of so-called "make-or-break" records. In fact, he's already thinking about his next project. One possibility is an album full of Gypsy music for which he's already cut a few tracks. The other idea is an album full of song-stories about his childhood home in west Texas.

"It's like my old songs. I never get tired of playing them. And I never get tired of going back to west Texas," he says. "It sounds like bullshit, I know, but I'm connected to the soil there. Whenever I hit a dry hole in my songwriting, I go back there and look for the well."
The parched soil of west Texas is not the best place to sow wild oats. While he's more connected to the land, he's disconnected from the groupie scene. Yet Ely says he will not allow his placid personal life and advancing age to dull the musical edge he has carefully honed.

"Hell, no, I'm not done rockin' yet," says Ely, who's heard the question before. "And if I were going to slow down, I wouldn't have gone out and gotten a young guy like Ian Moore. He pushes me. And as great as he's playin', I still have to kick him in the butt once in a while, too.

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