Justin Townes Earle
Deep, dark and very intimate songs
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to receive this album and how excited I get every time I press play; but was seriously underwhelmed when I first heard it; as it initially sounded like a backward step; but now I’ve now played it quiet and I’ve played it loud; I’ve played it on sunny days in the car and late at night in hotel rooms and it’s taken a while; but now I ‘get it.’
This is Justin Townes Earle’s fifth album and first since getting married (and sober) but there aren’t many laughs here; with songs like White Gardenia’s and the exquisite Burning Pictures both being brilliantly observed songs about bitter break ups; hopefully Justin is just clearing out the cupboards of his mind.
Both of Earle’s previous albums are in my Top 20 of all time (I do like a list!) but SINGLE MOTHERS is much more of a difficult listen, not unlike his first two; but the work you put in is worth it and who’s to say it won’t be in my Best of 2014.
The slow waltz Worried About the Weather opens the album and barely gets out of first gear as Earle and a pedal steel compete to see who can sound the most mournful (the singer wins) on a song that uses the inclement weather that surrounds him as a metaphor for his love life.
The title track follows and the pace picks up to a stroll; as yet again Justin sings about being brought up by his Single Mother while his Father gallivanted around the world; and this song is as sharp and deeply personal as anything he’s written before and is truly a class song.
On My Baby Drives Justin and band do let rip with a Rockabilly beat and a Country message on a song that will have me shuffling my feet every time I listen as he alludes to his new wife ‘driving his life now.’
When you hear the words in Just a Picture in a Drawer that track begins to make more sense as the singers Mother has died and all he has to remember her by is Just a Picture in a Drawer and after 37 years this song tugged at my own heartstrings and sent me to the family picture box for the same reasons.
The use of Paul Niehaus on pedal-steel gives the album a sweet, if somewhat dark Country edge; but this is the type of Country music that only makes sense on a cold and miserable day; none of these songs are going to get covered by Taylor Swift.
Released UK – September 22nd 2014
Released USA – September 9th 2014