Harlem River Blues

- Justin Townes Earle

3/5

Being saddled with the double-banger Townes and Earle legacies, from father Steve Earle and from the equally impressive Townes Van Zandt music dynasty, perhaps had something to do with Justin's rocky ride through his teenage years and beyond. His drug-taking got him fired from this father's band the Dukes and his notoriety remains an issue.

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No matter, third album Harlem River Blues is perhaps his musical coming of age. Certainly it's a very focused set of songs that melds an old-time country style with a sparse indie sound, and with gritty lyrics and sure-fire melodies.

Highlights include the choir-driven title track, its reprise, Working for the MTA and the Kiwi-linked Christchurch Woman. Don't be afraid if the word country isn't your thing, Justin Townes Earle's soundscape is universal.