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Album Mon Apr 16 2012

Album Review: Justin Townes Earle's Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

[This review comes to us from reader Sarah Brooks.]

The moment I started listening to Justin Townes Earle's latest album, Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now (Bloodshot Records), I knew it was going to be on "replay" for a while on my stereo.

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Nashville native Justin Townes Earle has gradually carved out his own name for himself in the music scene. Son of legendary musician Steve Earle and named after songwriter Townes Van Zandt, it was basically predestined for Justin Townes Earle to mature into the dynamic country/folk musician he is now. Earle's tumultuous early life was spent wrestling drug addiction and playing short-lived stints with a variety of bands before setting off on a solo career. This path allowed him to hone in on a mature sound and create an intimacy in his music that is unprecedented in the songs of many other country/folk musicians. The struggles brought pain to Earle's early life also created raw emotion that he pumps into his music with every song.

Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now is Earle's fifth studio album in five years and is full of this same emotional intensity, cementing his status as a bold musician who isn't going away anytime soon. While his previous release, Harlem River Blues, is made up of a stronger country sound and his older albums bounce from country to folk and more, Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now is more along folk lines, infused with pure soul, while also reminiscent of strong Southern blues traditions, with a twist. Each song is a part of a greater whole that weaves seamlessly throughout the album's entirety. The sound is lush and layered, with horns and organs swelling and frequently gliding along the background to Earle's vocals and relaxed beats, with harmonicas, piano, and strings making guest appearances. The album makes you wish you were sitting outside on a porch somewhere in the deep South, drinking iced tea and soaking in the warmth. Earle manages to easily blend songs that make you tap your feet and smile with songs punctured with dark, emotional vulnerability.

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Justin Townes Earle (photo by Joshua Black Wilkins)

Beginning the album with the tune "Am I That Lonely Tonight?" showcases Earle's focus on truth and sentimentality right off the bat. The beats move along slowly but surely and segue perfectly into "Look The Other Way," which instantly made me snap my fingers to the beat. Earle perfectly balances his lyrics against opposing sounds that surround it; it's not frequent that a song beginning with the lyrics "Mama, I'm hurtin'" can be perfectly juxtaposed amongst a cheery, soulful beat. The album's title track is Earle's triumphant ballad. "Baby's Got a Bad Idea" brings out Earle's country roots, with piano riffs and honky tonk beats, while "Maria" and "Down on the Lower East Side" breathe out soul. The album winds through more patches of soul, laden with Earle's emotional qualms and triumphs full of stark truth and emotionality. The last song on the album (which you can listen to below), "Movin' On," showcases Earle's current place within his life, as harmonicas back him up while he asserts his point that he is urgently trying to break free from his past. The album shows that Earle is ready to move forward, as its content is confessional and compelling. Earle has learned a lot throughout his mere 30 years of life, and it shows in the lyrics. The album presents itself as a stepping-stone for the singer-songwriter as he cements his growth, shaking off past demons and asserting his strength.

Earle's been in the music-making game for a while now, and perhaps it's true that as his album title reads, nothing will change the way you feel about him now. His entire album catalog is already quite strong, however, this album serves to intensify Justin Townes Earle's music as he presents us with a cohesive record filled with a mature and developed sound that's different from his past work, and a strong step in the right direction.

Catch Justin Townes Earle in Chicago at the Park West on May 10, 2012. The show is all ages and starts at 7:30pm. Tickets are on sale now for $20 (plus fees).

-Sarah Brooks

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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