Justin Townes Earle: Midnight at the Movies

Here’s something to make you feel older than dirt, Steve Earle fans: Not only is Earle’s son a grown-up singer/songwriter in his own right, but he’s releasing his second album on March 3 – and he already sounds as weary and worldly wise as his old man did on 1996’s I Feel Alright. But don’t look to the elder Earle’s music for points of reference when listening to Midnight at the Movies – like his old man, Justin Townes Earle doesn’t boast a classically strong set of pipes, but his voice is clearer and his songs generally better-kempt than his dad’s, wobbling just a little more gracefully down the line between rock and country. What the album sounds a lot like, actually, is the Replacements’ All Shook Down, only with slightly more consistent songs – a similarity brought into relief by Earle’s sleepy cover of the ‘Mats classic “Can’t Hardly Wait.” Earle also kinda-sorta covers the standard “John Henry” here, but for the most part, these songs are self-penned, and they stand up to the best that AAA/alt-country has to offer. Never mind the sophomore jinx – Earle sounds like he’s been at this forever, and might have enough stories in his guitar case to keep on rolling for a lifetime. If you’re a fan of the genre, Midnight at the Movies is not to be missed. (Bloodshot 2009)

Justin Townes Earle MySpace page