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Music Review: Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now

Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle
Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now
Available now on Bloodshot Records (March 27, 2012)

Whether it’s fair or not, Justin Townes Earle will likely always be compared to his dad. Such is the price when following in the footsteps of a well-respected musician, in this case troubadour Steve Earle.

“Hear my father on the radio/singing take me home again” Earle intones with the first line of “Am I that Lonely Tonight?” his new album’s first song. Not trying to ignore his bloodline, Earle addresses it without leaning on genetics as a crutch on Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now.

Earle sings the lyrics of a world-wise, yet still young man. Over mostly sparse accompaniment, namely his acoustic guitar, an organ here and there and subdued drums, he delivers an album that is straight to the point with no gimmickry or studio tricks. Recorded completely live over four days with no overdubs in a converted Asheville, NC church, the album lets Earle’s voice and writing be star of the show.

Justin Townes Earle 2 

Co-produced with long with longtime collaborator Skylar Wilson, who puts subtle shades of organ on several numbers, “Change” moves at an unhurried pace, telling tales of longing and heartbreak and the painful realization that impressions made can’t be unmade. But where a song with painful undertones such as the title track could turn into a pity party in the hands of a lesser writer, Earle begins to tell his story, but realizes decisions have been made final.

A piercing steel guitar sets up “It Won’t Be the Last Time,” the disc’s most melancholy number, in which Earle unflinchingly addresses shortcomings and mistakes made as a young man under the influence. The album is not without joy, however. “Baby’s Got a Bad Idea” and “Memphis in the Rain” move right along, propelled by steady drum beats and palpably jaunty vocal deliveries.

Fathers, mothers, cousins, friends and jilted lovers all pass through Earle’s lyrics. He knows as well as anybody it’s easy to disappoint those you love. His 30 years of ramblin’ have “left him wonderin’ if he’s ever learned a thing at all.” But there’s no time to worry he sings in the closer, he’s tryin’ to move on.