Justin Townes Earle, it seems, was destined for greatness. The son of Steve Earle gets his middle name from the great Townes Van Zandt—and has a voice and a stage presence that is more reminiscent of Hank Williams, Sr. than either of them. But when you combine the three, what you get is a powerhouse of an Americana singer—with the demons to match.
There’s been issues with addiction. There’s been fairly public fall-outs with friends and fellow musicians. There was that time he punched a woman in Indianapolis. But, what we have now is a cooler, calmer, Earle. And Earle seems to have even made peace with his own daddy, whom he used to bad-mouth onstage every chance he got.
His music now seems to be reflective of the sea change in Earle’s own personality. Take, for example, his latest album—last year’s Kids in the Street. It’s a work that builds on Earle’s country credentials and then takes it to the next level, blending blues, dixieland and even pop styles.
And while it seems that “Champagne Corolla” is the biggest single from the new album, with clever lyrics celebrating a sensible woman for her even more sensible automobile of choice (“She can go a week on just one tank,” Earle says in a giant metaphor of a song), it’s the “Short Haired Woman” track from the same album that has me all atwitter. It takes a grown man to appreciate a woman with a cropped cut, and if this album is any indication, grown up is exactly what Earle is. Finally.
Justin Townes Earle plays a solo show at The State Room on Tuesday night. The show is sold out, but it’s worth trying your luck at a local Graywhale location.