Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues 9/14/2010
Woody Guthrie once said, “Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.” On Harlem River Blues, due Sept. 14 from Bloodshot, Justin Townes Earle takes that lesson to heart, making a statement without making a wall of sound.
Compared to the much-lauded Midnight at the Movies, Harlem River Blues is more mature and increasingly nuanced, while still embracing the raw voice and clean sound of previous standout tracks like “Mama’s Eyes.” Featuring guest appearances from Jason Isbell, Bryn Davies and Calexico’s Paul Niehaus, it’s rockin’ and reelin’ at times, sweet and slow at others – and it’s great. Like good fried chicken, a well-cut suit and a hand made guitar, there’s heaven to be found in the beautifully crafted simpler things.
Sporting some of those well-cut suits, Justin Townes Earle spent 2009 pounding the proverbial pavement, touring constantly and wowing audiences worldwide. That hard working earnestness has paid off, to say the least. Justin won the Best New and Emerging Artist at the 2009 Americana Music Awards. Midnight at the Movies was named one of the best records of last year by Amazon, got four stars in Rolling Stone and found a sweet spot in the blackened hearts of fans and critics alike. GQ magazine named him one of the 25 best dressed men in the world in 2010. He also appeared on HBO’s Treme with his dad, troubadour Steve Earle, on whose Grammy Award winning Townes record Justin also guests.
As versed in Mance Lipscomb as he is in M. Ward and sporting Marc Jacobs suspenders, Justin Townes Earle is a man beyond eras. With Harlem River Blues, a record that’s perfect for late Indian summer nights on either the front porch or fire escape, Justin’s found yet another way to be a timeless original.