Justin Townes Earle
Kids In The Street
(New West Records)
We’ve all heard it before. A rising artist is the son, daughter, cousin of an unimaginable talent, thus this younger, related artist must have some genetically ingrained DNA that also produces great work. More often than not this isn’t the case, and the artist is simply trying to ride coattails of their gifted elder.
That’s not the situation with Justin Townes Earle, who is the son of the legendary Steve Earle and named after Townes Van Zandt. The younger Earle, who is newly married and expecting a child, doesn’t sound as dreary as his namesake on this very versatile offering of country, folk, blues, jazz and soulful rock. Sure, there’s still sparse songs with just Earle and his guitar, letting his superb vocals and songwriting shine, but horns, organs and rowdier versions of rock dominate the early part of the album, sometimes even bordering on R&B. While the first half of the album are instant classics (“Maybe A Moment” might be the best song of 2017), the second half makes you earn your appreciation with more poetic, subtle genius and steers Justin Townes Earle closer towards the greatness achieved by his father.