Listen to: Justin Townes Earle, ‘Single Mothers’

Listen to: Justin Townes Earle, ‘Single Mothers’

Leigh MichaelTuesday,9 September 2014

The Snap:

Country crooner and chronic chip-off-his-shoulder singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle is back with his sixth studio release. Single Mothers hits virtual and physical shelves on September 9th. You can purchase the album on Amazon or iTunes, and sample the tracks via NPR.

The Download:

My feelings towards Justin Townes Earle vacillate between admiration and exasperation. He is, undeniably, an incredibly talented storyteller, each song serving as a standalone tale. His voice has that timeless country twang, but it also has the rich grit that made his dad, Steve Earle, such a strong force in the music world. These talents, combined with artfully simple instrumentals, make his music a true treat.

But he’s so, so bitter.

Steve Earle, admittedly, shouldn’t be winning any “Father of the Year” awards. He was absent more than he was present, and he left his ex-wife to raise their son on her own. It’s fair that Justin Townes Earle might feel resentful. But hearing this grudge nudge itself into the vast majority of Townes Earle’s songs just gets old. Instead of feeling like a channel to tell a bigger story, it sort of just exudes “woe is me.”

Single Mothers isn’t plagued by quite the level of resentment. Sure, the overlying theme is, well, the experience of his single mother. And yes, the lyrics “Absent fathers / never offer even a dollar / he doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that he’s forfeited his rights to his own / he’s long gone now” stand out loud and proud. But it does have a merry twang that wasn’t around in many of his past songs. Even more of an improvement is “My Baby Drives,” a track that goes sans emotional wear and tear.

Although Single Mothers still has the now-characteristic resentment veining throughout, the emotionally-wrought themes seem to be painted with broader brushstrokes. And it’s a nice, promising snapshot of what Justin Townes Earle could grow to be – If he’s only get out of his own head for five minutes.

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Hat Tips:

NPR, Justin Townes Earle, Image Credit: Flickr



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