CD Review: Justin Townes Earle ~ Absent Fathers


Justin Townes Earle
Absent Fathers
Vagrant Records
/ Loose Music

This is Justin’s sixth album, a companion to Single Mothers and completes a circle that will be resonant in many listeners memories of childhood. The album is packed with emotion that flows through words, vocal tone and musical contours collectively they shape the album and the theme. Justin Townes Earle’s talent in writing as sitting in a confessional is cathartic for the listener as abandonment and all the hurt and bewilderment this leaves as a deep emotional scar that beds itself in and refuses to go away.

It is an album that has a nostalgic feel too much of the music with Nashville country, Memphis rock and soul yet the over-arching dominant force is the vocal tones that can deliver lyrics that are enriching, twist your heart and bind your soul as he takes you on a journey full of anger, regret an d sorrow. The opening track Rather From Me opens with the lines “Wish I could say that I know you, Cause lord, I wanna understand; Need you to know there’s nothing I want more in this world as a man.” Least I Got the Blues is a country blues number, we always have the blues that is a constant and is followed by Call Ya Momma which is an oxymoron of a track with its somber hurtful lyrics backed with a feel good jaunty feet-tapping melody; irony hangs heavy across the speakers and is the first single of the album.
Watch or Listen here


Following the release of his critically acclaimed album Absent Fathers via Loose Music earlier this year, Justin Townes Earle has now shared a new video for single ‘Call Ya Momma“.
The video was directed by Andrew Van Ball, which here gives a Western twist on Ambrose Bierce’s classic short story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.

This is not a negative album it is also full of how Justin is resilient and after many attempts at re-hab he has been sober since 2011 and the album shows how we can change recover and not be constrained by the hurt that has shaped us. Day and Night is moving into the light “Today’s got me a good woman; Standing in the kitchen with the sun comes through the curtains”; a recognition of the power his wife has had in his life, looking forward and bringing him out of the dark, the lyrics are accompanied by stripped down accompaniment and is wrapped in emotional relief.
Slow Monday, with acoustic guitar has a country feel and has a contentment, gentleness about the delivery and has a positive vibe; there is a normality of living as he croons “I hate Slow Monday Afternoons”. Closing the album with Looking for a Place to Land; this track pulls the album together and gives it a full stop as we have that bitter-sweet combination of heartache and happiness, that his journey has found a resting place; that there will be peace.

Throughout the album as we get to know the darkness behind Justin we cannot forget the title is a direct reference to his father Steve Earle; this adds another layer of tension; at times he is the victim but on every track the winner is the song and the musicians who deliver them with the passion and honesty. They deserve an album that will also be listened to when you need songs to help you make sense of an emotional whirlwind that life throws at you. This is an album that delves into the dark and comes out the other side we are all a little bit stronger after listening to Absent Fathers. I get a feeling that Absent Fathers as an album is at a crossroads in Justin Townes Earle’s musical lexicon and the best is yet to come.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

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