How much was Justin Townes Earle worth?
|Net Worth:||$12 Million|
|Date of Birth:||May 14, 1985|
|Country:||United States of America|
Who Is Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle straddled the fine line between folk music and classic country, frequently calling out the influence of artists like Townes Van Zandt, Merle Haggard, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Fans of his father Steve Earle may also be interested in Justin’s work.
Justin Townes Earle was born in 1982 and developed an affinity for music early on. By the time he was a teenager, he was playing with a rock band and a bluegrass band in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn. He also played for a spell with his father Steve Earle’s band the Dukes. He was eventually fired from the Dukes, however, after developing a severe drug addiction. After a drug overdose, Earle cleaned up his act and began writing songs again. He self-released a solo EP titled Yuma in 2007 before signing with Bloodshot records for his full-length debut a year later.
Critic: Tractor Tavern
With a name like Justin Townes Earle (son of Steve Earle, named for Townes Van Zandt), the bar was set kind of high. There’s a certain expectation for the son of one of America’s great protest singer-songwriters/alt-country artists. Needless to say, Justin Townes Earle delivered on all fronts.
Sandwiched, this night, between a local opener and the Felice Brothers, JTE hit the stage around 10:30 PM, decked out in smooth Nashvillian garb from slicked back hair to snake skin boots. He welcomed the crowd with a confident, resounding hello, and wasted no time in getting to his opening number.
The Good Life and Highlights
Backed by Corey Younts on mandolin, Earle hit song after song of good old school, classic folk-country. Hank Williams would’ve been proud, so would Earle’s namesake. He ably ripped through a tune by Van Zandt’s biggest hero, Lightning Hopkins, before returning to his own impeccable repertoire—pulled mostly from his recent release, The Good Life (due out Mar. 25, 2008).
It’s near impossible to pick the stand-out tunes from the night, as Earle’s butter-like voice and the tight terrain of his melodies shone through each performance. But, “Hard Livin,” “The Good Life,” and “What Do You Do When You’re Lonesome” were among the crowd favorites.
While Earle’s showmanship and stellar songwriting stood center stage for much of the hour-long set, Younts displayed great dexterity, switching seamlessly from mandolin to banjo to harmonica. Together, the pair covered all aspects of the songs so that there was never a moment of wishing some other instrument were there to fill a gap in style or energy. In other words, it was a really great show, and you’re missing out if you skip JTE when he comes to your town.
Critic: ‘Midnight at the Movies’
Justin Townes Earle’s second album on Bloodshot Records, Midnight at the Movies delivers more of the new rootsy goodness we saw from his last disc, The Good Life. Where Good Life saw Earle resurrecting and re-working songs from a classic country angle, Midnight sees him taking a decidedly more folk and alt-country direction, even singing of folk legends like the story of John Henry.
Following the Narrative Reel
Much like the artists whose names have been lent to his own, Justin Townes Earle has a knack for pulling together a number of disparate elements of Americana. From the classic country-style croon of tunes like “What I Mean to You” to the alt-country tambour of “Can’t Hardly Wait” (two of the disc’s finest tracks), it’s clear that Earle has a gift for interpreting the traditions from whence he came.
In fact, there are so many styles represented on this disc, it’s almost remarkable that they all make sense together. But, like a collection of scenes strung together to tell a greater story, Midnight at the Movies delivers.
Highlights and the Bottom Line
In addition to the aforementioned highlights, “Mama’s Eyes” is a tremendous self-reflecting narrative that plays out a confession. Nailing such intimate truth about life and one’s self without sounding schmaltzy or forced is a feat, but Earle musters the honesty without making the listener uncomfortable.
“Poor Fool” is a tongue-in-cheek grin of a tune, while “Black Eyed Suzy” is a delicious trotting romp and “Halfway to Jackson” is an excellent heart-string-tugging blues tune. No matter what style he’s tackling, Earle delivers his songs with a rare sincerity and grace. While most artists grit their teeth through a sophomore effort (that all-too-often cursed thing), Earle seems to have approached his with a fearlessness that is nothing if not admirable and impressive. The result, of course, is another set of great songs.
Critic: Harlem River Blues
Harlem River Blues is another step forward in his musical progression, with songs that are at once emotionally indulgent and full of artistic restraint.
Justin Townes Earle’s Love Letter to New York
After being born and raised in Tennessee, Justin Townes Earle relocated to New York City recently. From that move, he seems to have been wholly inspired to write a “New York album.” Complete from the disc’s title track opener – a sort of suicide fantasy and love letter to the city – to his working man’s tribute to the MTA, Earle is clearly fascinated and inspired by the City That Never Sleeps.
There have been countless tunes throughout history, written as a tribute to Manhattan. Earle breathes new life into the soundtrack of the Big Apple, though, blending Tennesse hills old timey fiddle tunes (“Wanderin”) and honky tonk (“Move Over Mama”), with New York-style gospel (title track) and jazz-blues (“Slippin and Slidin”). The vaguely Springsteen-esque “Christchurch Woman” is mentionable, too, even though that’s more of a Jersey energy than New York. Close enough, though.
Justin Townes Earlecourtesy Bloodshot RecordsIt’s been an interesting ride following the instrumentation Earle has chosen across his career. From the stark and stripped-down guitar-harmonica-mandolin string band vibe of his early recordings, through the lush rock band-backed energy of Harlem River Blues, it’s clear his music has grown. Whether that’s the result of having more money to spend in the studio – and more access to great players – or whether it’s just the evolution of his artistic sensibilities is tough to call. What matters is that he’s made that progression with some consideration and restraint, rather than throwing in a horn section simply because he might have access to one.
The arrangements on Harlem River Blues are indeed considerably more lush and ambitious than Earle has managed in the past, but they seek only to serve the songs, backing off when necessary, flowing through their various styles seamlessly. That Earle manages to marry so many elements on this record without making it sonically confusing is notable, as well. Then again, that’s his greatest asset – positioning himself somewhere between folk, blues, country, and punk traditions, as the human fork in all those roads.
Highlights, and the Bottom Line
As has been true of his other records, Earle lets this disc steadily gain momentum, with every song incrementally better and more realized than the last one. This culminates with the ultimate song on the disc – the poetic and stirring “Rogers Park” – and a rousing crowd-sized reprise of the title track. As long as his career continues to follow this trajectory, building each tune on top of the one which came before, Earle will continue to be a growing force in the industry.
Critic: ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now’
Justin Townes Earle’s fifth studio album is an inarguably solid collection of soul songs, eschewing his country upbringing and the rootsy Americana sound which spawned him over the past few albums. Sonically, it’s a bit of a departure, but the themes of the songs and the lyrical content continues along the same path he’s always pursued – that of intensely personal, honest lyricism. These are songs so honest they hurt sometimes. Earle has never shied from writing about some of the most difficult-to-confess emotions like loneliness and shame, and these songs are no exception. But, as usual, he does so with absolute artistry and thoughtful consideration.
An Ear for Soulful Instrumentation
In interviews about this album, Earle has hinted at the fact that he’s never been a country songwriter or an Americana songwriter, but just a singer-songwriter. As such, he reserves the right to create any style of music, and this time around he decided to pursue a more soulful approach. That’s clear particularly in the instrumentation. The horns are ever-present, as are a solid and steady rhythm section headed up by upright bass player Bryn Davies. The addition of parlor piano on a lot of these tunes makes perfect easy sense with Earle’s overall aesthetic.
But, as lush as the horns and rhythm section appear, Earle’s vocals tend to fall a little short on this disc, veering often toward poor intonation and wavering emotion. This works strongly on more upbeat tunes like “Baby’s Got a Bad Idea”, “Memphis in the Rain”, etc., where the blues is front and center and the grit of the pace seems to call for the tone of Earle’s shaky and raw vocals.
On slower songs, however (and the album kicks off with one), his voice comes off like a lanky, stretched-out frame dragging around in a too-big suit. It’s hard to listen in those moments, as the pain seems all too real and at the fore, as if he just lost sleep about all this last night. Maybe that’s the point – after all, the disc’s title (Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now) hints at a certain level of hopeless resignation. But, for more sensitive ears, it causes the disc to come off a bit less listenable than his previous efforts. Long-time fans who have championed his old school country, polished appeal will no doubt bristle at this rawness.
The Bottom Line
It seems Earle is entering a new realm of musicality. His performance here is certainly – and probably necessarily – raw and unfettered. But, the result isn’t really the kind of album you crank for a road trip or turn on in the background while you’re making dinner. This disc hurts – and you can hear it in Earle’s unabashed delivery. You can see it in the coverart and it’s a blaring, unignorable truth within the first few notes of the opening song. That the disc ends with a somewhat more optimistic tune called “Movin’ On”, doesn’t come close to the amount of heartache displayed until that point.
It’s not a sunny record, neither in lyrics nor instrumentation, and it will no doubt be an adjustment for those who cottoned to his work through The Good Life, Midnight at the Movies, or even Harlem River Blues (the latter two were, of course, also no frolic in the park).
That said, though, Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now is a strong artistic statement from a man who seems to be finding his rather strong artistic voice, away from the traditions which raised him and the unavoidable comparisons to the remarkable work of his father Steve Earle. You may not have this one in heavy rotation this year (or ever), but it’ll be a great disc to take out and spin when you need to be reminded of the depths to which music can take you, and from which it can rescue your heart.