Justin Townes Earle - 'Absent Fathers'
Justin Townes Earle - 'Absent Fathers'

ALBUM REVIEW : Justin Townes Earle – ‘Absent Fathers’

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.

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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

Slow Monday

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


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