Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Over three previous albums this son of
Steve (and named for Townes Van Zandt) has cut an increasingly
confident path with originals which are nominally country-Americana
but refer to alt.rock, bluegrass, honky-tonk, ragtime and Hank
Williams-styled truck-stop rock.
His shows here have been popular and on
this album he slips in the aching Christchurch Woman (with
guitarist Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive-By Truckers) for reasons we
might only guess. It doesn't look like the Avon on the sepia-toned
He reaches back to moody country-blues
in the manner of Woody Guthrie for the echoed Working for the MTA
(with pedal steel from Calexico's Paul Niehaus) and there's
similar back-country earthiness everywhere: between the rolling
groove of the title track opener and its chorale reprise at the end
are rocking boogie driven by electric organ (Move Over Mama),
the folk ballad Wanderin' with barnyard fiddle and handclaps,
the gritty urban blues of Slippin' and Slidin' (Isbell
again, and a horn section), and the lovely, lonely Rogers Park.
All this may make the tattooed and lean
Earle sound like a revivalist but these songs bristle with relevance,
he sounds battered by the 21st century (Learning to
Cry) and that Christchurch woman he's waiting alone in a room for
is going to give him comfort.
She might need him more right now, and
many are going to need this fine album.