Justin Townes Earle


Photo Credit: Joshua Black Wilkens

Justin is an interesting guy to follow on social media. I’ve witnessed him fall off the wagon, bemoan the over-building in Nashville and celebrate the World Series title of his beloved Cubbies. Over the last year, it has been nice to hear him embracing married life, await the birth of his first child and make Kids In The Street.

Kids In The Street is his seventh album and first with new label, New West Records. It also happens to be the first time he’s recorded outside of Nashville with an outside producer, Mike Mogis. It also happens to be my favorite album by him since Midnight At The Movies.

“When I wrote songs in the past, I was looking in on what I was feeling, but this record’s more about looking outward on what’s happening, and writing about subjects like gentrification and inner city strife,” was the most interesting quote in the press release as the album is more observational in its scope.

The album opens with Champagne Corolla, a track celebrating the everyday cars that folks drive. Its buoyed by some tasty horns. He follows that track by taking a look at a time when life was simpler pre-gentrification on the title track. He also seems to dip into his wilder years for inspiration on Maybe A Moment, a track about talking a girl into a ride down to Memphis. And 15-25 is a New Orleans infused boogie that catalogues the list of transgressions of youth.

I’m loving this album more and more every day. When Justin is on top of his game, there are not many better out there. On Kids In The Street, he’s on top of his game.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

JTE is here



Photo Credit: Joshua Black Wilkens

JTE is back with his 7th LP, Kids In The Street and his first with New West Records. Fresh off his (and my) beloved Cubs winning the World Series, JTE is a positive state of mind. It might have something to do with his continuing sobriety, a solid marriage the impending arrival of his new baby. So while me may be happy with, if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll know he’s not digging what’s going on in East Nashville. From his PR Team.

Several of the songs on Kids On The Street reference the lower-middle-class Nashville neighborhoods of Earle’s youth, which in recent years some say have lost their character to the creeping scourge of gentrification. Significantly, the album is the first of Earle’s not recorded in Nashville. “It’s the first time that I’ve worked outside of my usual umbrella of people to make a record,” Earle explains, adding “In Nashville, if you have the right connections, it’ll spoil the shit out of you, because you’ve got access to the best musicians in the world and the best studios in the world. If you had told me when I started making records, that I wasn’t gonna make every record in Nashville, I would have told you you were crazy. And if you’d told me that I’d end up making a record in Omaha, I’d tell you you were out of your freaking mind.”

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

JTE is here



Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

Justin Townes Earle has never been shy about sharing his opinion. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with him a few times. While some can find him or his Twitter outbursts to be caustic; I’ve always found him to be charming. If you could levy any complaint on him, it’s that he wears his heart on his sleeve (I’m fairly certain that he doesn’t like the new Nashville). But I’d counter that without that willingness to open himself up, he wouldn’t be the artist we’ve come to love.

Single Mothers is JTE’s fifth release and first with Vagrant Records. After amicably moving on from Bloodshot, Justin ran into some issues with Communion Records trying to dictate how the album would come to be. As someone who’s fiercely dedicated to his craft and also a true lover of the history of music; that was never going to fly. Justin wasn’t shy about sharing those feelings on his entertaining Twitter account.

I’m happy to say that all of his headaches were worth it. Single Mothers continues his movement away from the rockabilly sound to an R&B sound consistent with his last album, Nothing’s Going To Change The Way You Feel About Me. Single Mothers lacks some the horns that really lent to the Memphis Sound. Single Mothers is sort of like Country R&B, if that even make sense.

Songs like the metaphorical Worried About The Weather are balanced with the upbeat My Baby Drives. A good chunk of the album seems reflective of his youth. Wanna Be A Stranger feels like the older (and newly married) JTE is talking to his younger self. Picture In A Drawer & It’s Cold In This House are JTE at his best. Words slipping out of his mouth with nothing but his acoustic and a steel backing him. These are the tracks that will stop a music hall in its tracks

Single Mothers is another statement from one of great American voices of our generation. He is a music traditionalist and a student of his game. And as proved by the last year, he will never compromise his music for the sake of somebody else.

Our 2008 session with Justin can be found here.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

JTE is here

Joshua Black Wilkins is here

{ 1 comment }

Justin Townes Earle is special artist for us at HearYa. He was one of our earliest visitors for the HearYa sessions, long before the videos starting taking shape. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Justin a few years back on a couple of occasions and always found him captivating. So with the highs and lows in his personal life that he has experienced these last couple of years, it is great to see him coming out the other end with the accolades he deserves. And a truly amazing fourth LP, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now.

JTE has always had a self-awareness that permeates his music. On Harlem River Blues, Earle referenced his slide back into addiction in Slip Sliding Away. Here, the opening track, “Am I That Lonely Tonight?,” begins:

Here my father on the radio singing “Take Me Home Again”
300 miles from the carolina coast and I’m staring at phones again.
Sometimes I wish I could get away. Sometimes I wish he would call.
Am I That Lonely Tonight? I don’t know.

“Unfortunately, Anna” is the story of a girl in some run-down town where she complains of life’s hardships and wants to know that there’s more to life. The response given to Anna is brilliant, maybe a similar one that Justin received somewhere along the line during his relapse:

I wish there was someting I could do
Baby you’ve gonna to far to come back home
All this time you’ve waiting for the world to change
Unfortunately, Anna its you who needs to change
Unfortunately Anna.

I was lucky to enough to hear these songs for the first time in a live setting at Stubb’s during SXSW. I was so close to that stage that I could have reached out and high-fived Justin. This intimacy was perfect because the album was recorded over four days in a converted church studio without overdubs. The outcome is an album sounding like a live session and less like a finely polished album. There is so little pretense that the music jumps out of the speakers and into your soul.

On the video below; a) I love Dave’s reaction. b) I equally love that he held the album upside down.


Justin Townes Earles Wins Song of the Year

October 17, 2011

Justin Townes Earle took home song of the year at the 2011 Americana Music Awards for “Harlem River Blues.” It was a fitting end to what has been a long year back from an abyss filled with addictions, demons, rehab and redemption. I have met Justin a handful of times, including a Cubs game with […]

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Justin Townes Earle performs on Letterman with Jason Isbell and Paul Shaffer

January 13, 2011

In case you missed it (like me), check out JTE and Isbell taking the Letterman stage together with Paul Shaffer.  Safe to say they crushed it and hopefully we’ll see more Isbell/Earle collaborations in the future. I absolutely love watching Jason Isbell play the guitar. On Justin’s list of achievements, I’d say “Letterman Performance” probably […]

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Justin Townes Earle, Harlem River Blues, a canceled tour, and rehab. [Album Review]

September 29, 2010

For those that follow Justin Townes Earle, you probably recall that he was fired from his Dad’s band after developing some “bad habits.” He then found sobriety, his solo song craft, and put out two phenomenal country albums in The Good Life and Midnight At The Movies. We’re not ones to gossip and normally I’d […]

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Justin Townes Earle – Ghost of Virginia [Bootleggin’]

April 23, 2010

In a random encounter at our SxSW 2009 day party, I met a guy that obsessively records Americana/ Alt-country shows around Austin. I’m now on his email list and his tapings and downloads can be found here. This track was sent out today and it’s too good not to share on a Friday. Justin Townes […]

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Justin Townes Earle named one of GQ’s most stylish men in the WORLD? And he releases new track [new mp3]

January 25, 2010

Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes recently collaborated on a song called “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind.” He’s also getting some unexpected attention as one of GQ’s most stylish men in the world, up against the likes of Johnny Depp and LeBron James. Eh? Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes – Do I Ever […]

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Justin Townes Earle – Midnight At The Movies [New Video]

June 29, 2009

Justin Townes Earle just released a video for his song “Midnight At The Movies,” from his album of the same name (Our review). You can also download the tracks from our live session with Justin Townes Earle. Video: Justin Townes Earle – Midnight At The Movies Justin Townes Earle, “Midnight at the Movies” from Bloodshot […]

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