Entering the world of Justin Townes Earle is always a dark journey. The lives of the people who emerge from his songs, record after record, live and die in borderlands, just out of sight of hope and happiness. Some of their hardships are self-made, others are just fate, caught in the timeless cycles of hard times. Some are lost in love, others are drinking and sinking fast, leaving notes and disappearing out windows or into dark waters. His latest record, “Single Mothers” (Vagrant Records, 2014), is filled with worry. But beware, Earle is a master fiction writer. It’s a serious mistake trying to divine facts about his personal life from any of his songs. It’s a subject that incurs his bark, and his bite, in interviews. The novelist in Earle is what propels his work into such successful emotional spaces with so much force. Even from New York, Earle keeps pushing his modern Nashville sound into rootsy new spaces, keeping to tradition, but forever searching and trying new textures.
“I didn’t get into music to become a blues musician, or a country musician. I’m a singer-songwriter. In my book that means I get to do whatever I want.” —Justin Townes Earle
Music magazines frequently offer cool samplers of new music. Sometimes getting them takes some digging around their websites to figure out how to find them and download them. This one is super easy (100% free and legal). (I’m a big fan of Justin Townes Earle.) The current issue of American Songwriter magazine has a nice, but a little brief, piece on the evolution of the The Japandroids.