Style: Memphis soul; compare to Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ryan Adams
Top tracks: "Down on the Lower East Side," "Maria," "Am I That Lonely Tonight?"
Justin Townes Earle begins his new album with a story about hearing one of his dad's songs on the radio—and he's one of the few singer/songwriters who can actually get away with it. Actually, Steve's son has never sounded less like his dad then he does here, trading the grit and vigor of his country/rock barnburner Harlem River Blues for a smooth, sleepy, Memphis soul sound. There are horns, finger-popping bass, B-3 organs aplenty, even some moments approaching Springsteen's E-Street rock—but the production is a bit too rote, the songs too lethargic, to sell Earle's tales of loneliness, heartache, and personal demons.1