Justin Townes Earle’s new record is like open-heart surgery, it hurts, it’s painful but it’s necessary and ultimately it blooms into a beautiful honest contribution to country music that many can love. Songs that sing the blues, laced amongst poetic storytelling lyrics, woven with melancholy folky vibes ultimately becomes a passionate and raw album, a true sign that this offering is as personal and devoted, as one can possibly be when it comes to songwriting.
His last full length album only came a matter of months ago with “Single Mothers” and is now followed up with “Absent Fathers”, a raw choice set to symbolise his troubled past, his father Steve Earle, the iconic folk singer-songwriter walked out on him when he was two years old. Unbeknownst to him, Justin would grow up himself to become a legendary folk artist with a back catalogue of heartbreak that can inspire many a heartbreaking song.
‘Absent Fathers’ is filled with sultry slow songs as the lyrics declare brave honesty, ‘Day and Night’ is one example with lyrics including “standing in the kitchen/when the sun comes through the curtains/wondering what this day is gonna bring/yesterday I felt so much more than I feel now”. ‘When the One You Love Loses Faith’ is as beautiful as it gets, a waltz of devotion whilst ‘Slow Monday’ is a story of usual weekly gripe but set to a charming country folk backdrop.
That’s not to say the whole album is a bleak blues offering set to tears from a listener as there are up-tempo funky tracks thrown into the mix including ‘Some Will Pay’ and ‘Round the Bend’, an opportunity to lift the spirits amongst this raw and uncompromising album when it comes to honesty.
Many artists can write hundreds of songs and many will never see the light of day as they are dropped from album listings in favour of something catchier or more memorable. However, Justin Townes Earle obviously isn’t willing to forgo songs like the usual method instead offering another favourable album filled with fervour and brutal honesty that brings a rainbow of emotion and simply beautiful songs.
Review by Kat Bagshawe