If you’re expecting an album full of rock-fuelled instrumental breaks, balearic beats or frenzied feedback then i would suggest you move onto the next GIGsoup article with immediate effect. If you’re looking for something that oozes melancholy and lament then stick with us.
The new LP from American singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle is the companion piece to 2014’s ‘Single Mothers’; the two were recorded at the same time and originally the plan was to release the two as a single LP. This 2015 offering is again a very personal piece of Americana which this time deals with aspects of ‘moving on’. It’s a sombre affair that may not be everyones piece of cake, but theres no doubting the exceptional songwriting on show.
The album is fairly unique in that every track is recorded live with his touring band. There are no overdubs here and no additional musicians. In fact, songs “Picture in a Drawer’ and ‘It’s Cold in This House’ are only Justin, his guitar and his pedal steel player Paul Niehaus.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/177405266″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
For all its obvious beauty and attention to detail this is still a personal piece of music and as a fan of music (without my journalistic hat on) it’s still hard for me to relate to the content. You can clearly see the artist has matured as a person and songwriter on this release due to its overwhelming honesty in some areas; his addictions and broken home have clearly been the catalyst for some of these tracks. But for all it’s beauty i can’t honestly say that if offers anything that hasn’t been done before. I desperately wanted to like this album but it left me feeling a little flat, even after a number of well co-ordinated listens. There is no ‘classic’ track here. There’s even a point where you’re hoping for a slight change of pace or direction; but it simply doesn’t come (maybe with the exception of ‘Round the Bend’).
However, the sentiments are clearly positive ones. The album is about moving on and clearly the writing of it has helped the musician to do so. Sobriety and a marriage have certainly enabled the artist to deal with his past traumas and sharing them may certainly strike a chord with others in similar situations. There will certainly be music lovers who will also take something away from these pieces of personal tragedy and reconciliation.
I guess the best way i can sum this up is like so … “this album is for everyone at some point of their life”.
Justin Townes Earle’s ‘Absent Fathers’ is out now on Loose Music.
The full track-listing for ‘Absent Fathers’ is as follows…
Farther From Me
Least I Got The Blues
Call Ya Momma
Day and Night
Round the Bend
When the One You Love Loses Faith
Someone Will Pay
Looking For A Place To Land
You can see ‘Justin Townes Earle’ at one of these venues…
17 Jan GLASGOW, Oran Mor (Celtic Connections)
18 Jan GATESHEAD, Caedmon Hall
19 Jan MANCHESTER, Band on the Wall
21 Jan OSLO, John Dee
23 Jan STOCKHOLM, Sodra Teatern
24 Jan GOTHENBURG, Pustervik
25 Jan MALMO, KB
26 Jan BERLIN, Grüner Salon
28 Jan HAMBURG, Nochtspeicher
29 Jan AMSTERDAM, Paradiso
30 Jan GRONINGEN, Oosterpoort
31 Jan ROTTERDAM, Rotown
01 Feb UTRECHT, Tivoli Vredenburg
03 Feb LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club
04 Feb NOTTINGHAM, Glee Club
05 Feb BRISTOL, The Tunnels
06 Feb LONDON, Union Chapel