Justin Townes Earle
New Album Reviewed
Kids In The Street
By Rob Dickens
I must admit to finding it a little challenging to review another Justin Townes Earle album.
Kids In The Street is to be released on May 26 2017. It marks a new record label (New West Records) and is his seventh release in just nine years.
Earle has been a master at recreating older musical styles in a contemporary manner and bringing to them his sharp observations. He has taken early country, R’n’B, folk, soul, pop and swing and reinvigorated those styles. The best songs over his career (to these ears at least) – ‘Harlem River Blues’, ‘Midnight At The Movies’, ‘Mama’s Eyes’, ‘One More Night in Brooklyn’, ‘They Killed John Henry’ – are high points indeed, well-crafted melodies and with an ear to tradition and strong narratives. Over time, Earle’s releases have become generally more complex in arrangements and layers with his voice more mature.
There is a sense for me, though, that the regularity of his recordings tends to dilute his strengths. Apart from completists, there is no need to buy every single album because there is simply not enough diversity or time between them.
The twelve-song set of Kids In The Street was produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit) at his ARC Studios in Omaha and this is the first time in his career that Earle has worked with an outside producer and not recorded in Nashville.
Changes are definitely afoot.
It is a soulful set and reflects significant changes in Earle’s life. He is now married, expecting a child, embracing sobriety and the record reflects an enthusiasm not evident on earlier material (and certainly not in live performances where audiences were not quite sure what to expect with his mood and observations). There is also plenty of reflection here with many of the songs touching on the Nashville suburbia of his youth.
This is a fine collection, full of deep and personal stories with beautiful arrangements. It IS recommended and provides another example of Earle’s consistent output. If, like me, you have a shelf full of past releases, you might still be waiting for that record that rises up and blows us all away!
You can listen to the Kids In The Street’s opener, “Champagne Corolla,” HERE.
Kids In The Street Track Listing:
- Champagne Corolla
- Maybe A Moment
- What’s She Crying For
- Kids In The Street
- Faded Valentine
- What’s Goin’ Wrong
- Short Hair Woman
- Same Old Stagolee
- If I Was The Devil
- Trouble Is
- There Go A Fool
via Thrillhill Music