Townes Earle's 2010 album Harlem River Blues has seldom been absent from my playlist over the last year or so. My anticipation for this follow-up was high.
Sure, this is a different record in at least two respects, but I haven't been disappointed. Musically, the big difference is the addition of a brass section to the line-up. Emotionally, the level of angst seems higher, too, as Justin dwells on the father-son-mother relationships, with Steve Earle firmly in his sights.
In a way, it's appropriate that the sessions for the album were recorded live in a church in North Carolina with no overdubs. Earle says the sound of the new record is him paying homage to the classic sounds of the Stax soul era, although he sneaks in a short tribute to another of his idols, Chet Baker, through a muted sax piece.
Earle wears his heart on his sleeve, and all his songs are raw and unprocessed. Lyrically, they are close to a diary of where he is and how he feels, sometimes reflecting where the road is taking him. That said, he writes and sings with a level of passion that few of his contemporaries achieve. Standouts for me on this album are Am I that lonely tonight, Down on the Lower East Side and Memphis in the rain, but really there are no duds.
Better still, you can catch Justin Townes Earle live in New Zealand this month.
Artist: Justin Townes Earle
Album: Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me