Release Date: Mar 26, 2012
Record label: Bloodshot
A horn section lends Justin Townes Earle's fourth LP a Memphis-soul feel, which is less a departure than a shift in emphasis. Thematically, he continues his chronicle of a life balanced (barely) on the edge. Love is elusive; the legacy of his father, Steve Earle, is a blessing and a curse, and the road exhausts and exhilarates. That Earle breathes life into those well-worn ideas is a tribute to the rough-hewn elegance of his writing and his voice.
If you still haven’t listened to Harlem River Blues, Nashville heir-to-the-Americana throne Justin Townes Earle’s 2010 album, go do that first, before you get into Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now. It was one of the best albums released that year, and it got the critical attention it deserves, but three days after its release, Earle found himself in trouble with the law, arrested for battery, public drunkenness and resisting arrest after an altercation with venue staff at Radio Radio in Indianapolis. Personal struggles with addiction and troubles with the law, not to mention the connection of his folk-royalty father, Steve Earle, have meant that Earle the Younger, gifted as he is, has always had a specific narrative attached to him and his music.
Justin Townes Earle is a great guitarist, yet on his fourth album, produced by longtime collaborator and pianist/organist Skylar Wilson, he opts for a Memphis soul sound and, on a number of songs, takes his guitar out of the picture. His excellent backing band carries things along. Though there are fewer standout tracks than on 2010's Harlem River Blues, this entirely live album is warmer and more consistent, with a lot of heart.
Justin Townes EarleNothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now[Bloodshot Records; 2012]By Johan Alm; April 11, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGBetween his debut EP Yuma, released in 2007, and 2010’s excellent Harlem River Blues every album released by Justin Townes Earle was better than the previous. However, his new one, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now, Earle’s self-proclaimed “daddy issues” record, puts an end to that impressive streak. Where Harlem River Blues approached greatness, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now seems satisfied with merely being a good record and the end result does not reach the highs promised by its predecessor.
Surely there was a point where there was a lot of pressure on Justin Townes Earle. Son to Steve Earle, and named after Townes Van Zandt, there’s two pretty clear thoughts that come to mind. First, how could he not become a singer-songwriter? Second, dude has some pretty big shoes to fill. Over his first three albums, though – especially 2010’s excellent Harlem River Blues – he’s done a lot to ease that pressure, producing great records that may all borrow from rock and folk and country, but none of them sound alike.
Justin Townes Earle's 2010 effort Harlem River Blues sounded like he'd found his way as a singer/songwriter amid the spidery, criss-crossing lines of Memphis' long and sometimes fractious musical heritage. Earle moved to London, but the sound of Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now is even more haunted by Memphis than its predecessor. Its sounds have woven their way so far inside his songwriting and arrangements here that he almost disappears.
There is nothing showy about Justin Townes Earle's fourth album. Its 10 songs deal with men on the skids, men searching for love and meaning, but resigned to the fact they're not going to find much of either if they carry on as they are. The lyrics might come across as dreadfully self-pitying, were it not for their acute construction: "I guess mama wasn't lying about the dangers there could be inside one's heart/ We're better off if we all remain strangers stumbling through the dark." Add the affecting catch in Earle's voice, the way he half-croaks his most yearning lines, and what a heart-snagging record this becomes.
Those familiar with Justin Townes Earle won’t be surprised that the rambunctious crooner has yet again changed his style. The junior Earle (son of Steve) has explored the breezy early Americana folk realm (sophomore LP Midnight at the Movies), foot-stompin’, church choir rockabilly (Harlem River Blues), and most recently dabbles in soulful, jazzy folk with Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now. Earle has always been the epitome of restless—his lanky frame crooked over his guitar, dapperly dressed, divulging his checkered past of drugs, rehab, and family feuds through well-crafted songs.
For Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now, his fourth album in just over four years, Justin Townes Earle takes yet another stylistic turn, leaning on the brushed drums, Hammond B3 organ fills, and horn sections that signify Memphis soul. Because so much of his music deals with matters of identity, Earle’s restlessness can work to his advantage, with each of his albums giving the impression that he’s wrestling with a slightly different cadre of demons. Unfortunately, Nothing’s Gonna Change is so uniformly dreary and banal in its production that it suggests Earle was trying to lull his personal demons to sleep.
The title of J.T. Earle's fourth release, bubbling with Memphis-style horns, could be aimed at a lover – or a loyal listener. On first blush, Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now seems intent on visiting familiar places – "Hear my dad on the radio" are the first words Earle sings, diving right in – but soon, he and his guitar are edging into fresh territory.
The Nashville singer is due some rather larger crowds based on this great fourth LP. Leonie Cooper 2012 Why Nashville-born singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle isn’t a stadium-packing superstar is a mystery. Country music continues to be one of the largest grossing and persistently Grammy-grabbing genres around, both in the Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch Americana mould and via the younger, glossier version peddled by Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum.
The opening lines on this latest offering from Justin Townes Earle are a naked plea to his father, Steve, to reach out to him. It's certainly a gripping way to kick off his fourth album, because there's no doubt it rings true. Since coming on the scene in 2008, the younger Earle has shown that he's inherited many of his father's musical tools and also Steve's well publicized past drug and alcohol addictions.
On Justin Townes Earle’s fifth album, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now, it’s all about nostalgia. Old loves, stomping grounds, and feelings are all dug up and reassessed here. While the album only clocks in at around 30 minutes, Earle still finds time to offer up a collection of personal reflections. It’s no coincidence then that the album was recorded in a converted church in Asheville, NC.
Justin Townes Earle is a ramblin’ man. The son of a hard-touring musician who’s become a hard-touring musician himself, he’s moved from Nashville up to New York, and from there to London, with countless stops and shows in between. But his heart and soul remain rooted in Tennessee and its many musical forms: old-school country, hardscrabble Appalachian folk, rowdy rockabilly, and sturdy rural blues.