Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now (Bloodshot/Southbound) CD REVIEW

SHORT BUT PERFECTLY formed, this 10-song album is an object lesson in how to craft a modern day, country-oriented singer-songwriter record. Earle – son of Steve – already owns a set of pipes that sounds like the voice of experience. His singing, just like the songs and performances on Nothing’s Gonna Change… resonate with naturalist flavours that convinces the listener from the get-go.
That voice has texture, and so do the musical arrangements, the real coup de gras on this exceptional album. Earle could be singing about playing scrabble with his cat for all I care, because everything else about this project sounds so right. It’s a gorgeous, semi-acoustic sound that Witchdoctor readers will love, featuring beautifully recorded double bass and on some tracks, muted horn arrangements that add emotional heft to the songs.
But as it happens, Earle does write songs worth hearing, and he has the craftsmanship to master the art of making them seem like they have always existed, without them being at all clichéd. Part of his skill is making the singing of them seem so easy, so nonchalant, and when he comes up with a smart lyric line, it just slips by the way it’s supposed to. Unlike so many contemporary singer songwriters (see my review of Simone Felice elsewhere) Earle doesn’t feel the need to hammer home his better lyrics, or irradiate in his own brilliance.
Few look for happiness in their country singer-songwriters, and Earle serves up songs that consistently bathe in loneliness, heartbreak, rejection and familial issues. But there’s something stoic and honest about the way he approaches his subject matter, like he’s talking to a friend, not crying on a shoulder. GARY STEEL
Note: Justin Towne Earle plays a series of dates in New Zealand during April.
Music = 4/5
Sound = 4.5/5

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