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Entertainment News

Sunday, 1 June, 2008 7:49 PM

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Justin Townes Earle

Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

Bloodshot recording artist Justin Townes Earle

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2008 CMA Close Up News Service

It's too easy to explain Justin Townes Earle's gifts as a musical legacy bequeathed by his father Steve Earle. The sound of The Good Life reflects a charisma and sensitivity that would distinguish anyone's debut album, regardless of pedigree.

Earle steeps these 10 original songs in traditional Country, with fiddles, guitars, dobros and piano that sound as if they've been waiting for generations in someone's attic before being retrieved, dusted off and tracked by producers R.S. Field and Steve Poulton. This sound suits Earle's folk-flavored melodies and lyrics, particularly on the song "Lone Pine Hill," whose Civil War narrative reveals a knack for rustic vernacular writing.

Raised in Nashville, Earle blazed his own musical path, winding from bluegrass to punk-inflected Americana and cultivating enough bad habits along the way to be fired from his father's band. He's cleaned up his act now, and while traces of the music he's done before can be discerned throughout The Good Life, they serve mainly to enhance a predominantly vintage Country aesthetic.

In the proto-rockabilly attitude that shambles through "What Do You Do When You're Lonesome," the two-beat, Hank Williams Sr. feel of the title track, the painful intimacy of "Turn Out My Lights," the saloon shuffle of "Lonesome and You" and "Ain't Glad I'm Leaving," whose honky-tonk redolence is enhanced by Chris Scruggs' lap steel, Earle understates his performances in ways that let the timeless feel and rare eloquence of these songs speak on their own.

That's not an easy skill to hand down. The Good Life, released on Bloodshot Records, promises more rich music to come on its own terms, genes or no genes.

Q&A:

MUSICAL HERO

"Woody Guthrie."

INFLUENCES

"Woody Guthrie, George Jones, Ray Price and Townes Van Zandt."

CD IN YOUR STEREO

"Mando Saenz."

BOOK ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND

"Suttree, by Cormac McCarthy."

FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION

"Pickup truck."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/justintownesearle

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AMERICAJR NETWORK :: COACH'S CORNER PRO SHOP :: SAND CREEK RECORDS :: LIFE MADE EASY