Ten years into his career, now dry, married and an expectant father, Justin Townes Earle is understandably in energised form on Kids In The Street. With producer Mike Mogis behind the desk (and on baritone guitar), he’s drawing on both classic soul and blues influences, case in point coming from the get go with ‘Champagne Corolla’, a swaggery mid-tempo rock n roller with Chuck Berry DNA and blasting horns. His answer to ‘Pink Cadillac’, it appropriately gives way to Bruce-tinted heartland roots rock nostalgia of the farfisa-backed ‘Maybe A Moment’, while, pedal steel weeping all over, ‘What’s She Crying For’ is pure honky tonk country, a mood echoed on the saloon-piano backed quick waltz ‘Faded Valentine’.
Indeed, it’s a stylistically diverse set throughout, ‘What’s Goin’ Wrong’ a lazing, laid back and sunny dose of swing with Dixieland clarinet, 15-25 a funky, loose limbed piano driven New Orleans groove that has its antecedents in things like Bill Medley’s ‘Little Latin Lupe Lu’ and ‘Same Old Stagolee’ a throwback to old school dusty folk blues, complete with vibraphone.
Earle’s said that the album’s more about looking out than in, and the simple fingerpicked acoustic title track, a reflective acoustic picked ballad with a steel-stained reflection on the changes that have taken place in the Nashville neighbourhoods of his youth as gentrification has taken away their character.
Getting back to that Latin blues’n’soul groove, ‘Short Hair Woman’ with its horns and organ is another itchy shake and shimmer in celebration of the sort of woman he wants while, staying with the old school blues ‘If I Was The Devil’ is a slow organ driven lope, and ‘Trouble Is’ has a more percussive goodtime swing. It ends on a quiet note, ‘There Go A Fool’ finding him in 60s slow dance soul territory amid baritone guitar, brass and Corina Figueroa Escamilla’s back up harmonies. No fool he, now fully his own man, Earle has never sound so assured, so relaxed and so deserving of a major breakthrough.
Artist’s website: www.justintownesearle.com
‘Maybe A Moment’ – official video: