* * * 1/2 "PONTIAC." Lyle Lovett. MCA. On his second album, the lanky, quirky Texas singer-songwriter uses the same elements that made his 1986 debut such an off-kilter delight--devastating wit, incisive observations and a jazzed-up country sound--to zero in on relationships, most of which turn out happily never after.
Combining the razor-edged character studies of Randy Newman and the bouncy musicality of Bob Wills, Lovett's songs often paint relationships--marriage in particular--as inviting as a dip in shark-infested waters.
Even at his funniest, as in "She's No Lady," Lovett never drops his guard lest he be love-struck by one of Cupid's arrows: "The preacher asked her and she said, 'I do' / The preacher asked me and she said, 'Yes, he does too' / The preacher said, 'I pronounce you 99 to life / Son, she's no lady, she's your wife.' "
In the album's first single, "Give Back My Heart" it's not so much the reluctant lover as the mystified, formerly freewheeling rambler who looks back on his life and wonders: "How she did it I'll never know / But it's been maybe 20 years or so. . . . There's just too much living going all around / But I can't figure out quite where it went."