Since launching his recording career a decade ago, Justin Townes Earle has established a reputation as a singular leading light in the Americana music community. With fearless, personally charged lyrical insight and infectious melodic craftsmanship, the young veteran singer-songwriter has built a rich, personally charged body of work. Now, on his seventh album, Kids in the Street, Earle raises the creative and personal stakes to deliver a deeply soulful set that’s both emotionally riveting and effortlessly uplifting. Taking himself out of his creative comfort zone and assembling a new set of collaborators, Earle has created one of his most potent efforts to date, reflecting all manner of new influences upon his life and his art.
“Life has changed a lot for me in the last few years,” Earle reflects. “I got married and am getting ready to become a father, and this is the first record that I’ve written since I’ve been married. There’s definitely an uplifting aspect to this record in a lot of ways, because I’m feeling pretty positive. “When I wrote songs in the past,” he continues, “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. This record also has more of a soul influence to it, and it’s got a deeper connection to the blues than anything I’ve done before.”
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 4, 1982, Justin Townes Earle grew up as the son of country-rock iconoclast Steve Earle, who gave him his middle name in honor of the great Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Justin quickly came into his own as a songwriter and performer, displaying a natural talent for deeply revealing lyrics that reflected his often-harsh life experiences and a musical approach that effortlessly integrated elements of blues, folk, and country.
His 2007 debut, EP Yuma, set the stage for a steady stream of acclaimed albums: The Good Life (2008), Midnight at the Movies (2009), Harlem River Blues (2010), Nothing’s Going to Change the Way You Feel About Me Now (2012), Single Mothers (2014), and Absent Fathers (2015). In the process, he built a large and devoted fan base that continues to support his work. Now embracing marriage, sobriety, and impending fatherhood, Justin Townes Earle is enthusiastically looking to the future. “I can’t say if I’m getting better, but I’m definitely evolving as a songwriter,” he states. “That’s my goal, to soak up new things and be aware of seeing life from a different point of view. The only thing I hope is that, in some shape, form or fashion, each record I make is better than the one before.”
Justin Townes Earle delivers an update on roots music that fairly glows.
Never has Earle sounded more attuned to the spirit and potential of the roots idioms he works with, or freer to play around with them.