eMusic Review 0
Since his debut EP in 2007, Justin Townes Earle has established himself as one of the best (and, sadly, underrated) new singer-songwriters, delivering three lovely sets of country- and folk-steeped tunes about Southern belles, road trips to Jackson and mythical working class hero John Henry. The 28-year-old has had some big expectations to live up to: Justin's the son of Steve Earle and was named after legendary songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Sure, he may never cut a song as indelible as "Poncho and Lefty," but Earle swings for the fences on his latest album and delivers his finest collection yet.
Earle was raised in Nashville, but recently moved to New York City and Harlem River Blues reflects that relocation wonderfully, with homespun tunes about Gotham's hustle-and-bustle. The dobro-flecked ballad "Workin' for the MTA" is a vivid narrative about a cash-strapped subway worker who runs "a 6 line train from Brooklyn Bridge to Pelham Bay." It's Earle's attempt to bring classic folk songs about labor strikes into the modern age, yet the conceit doesn't ever feel hackneyed or forced. The rockabilly tune "Harlem River Blues," meanwhile, comes on like a sinner's version of Al Green's classic "Take Me to… read more »