Justin Townes Earle | City Winery | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader
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Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle

Joshua Black Wilkins

When: Mon., Aug. 3, 8 p.m. 2015
Price: $25-$45
On "Farther From Me," the opener from Absent Fathers (Vagrant), Justin Townes Earle’s second album in less than a year, the singer-songwriter addresses what sure seems like his own father, Steve Earle. He dresses down a deadbeat dad who doesn’t have a clue how to repair the damage he's wrought ("But you won’t break my heart again, no / Broke it once, I was too young / And it didn’t mend"). The following nine tracks don't dwell on the same subject, but they have a similar dynamic. He addresses lovers in varying states of distress, chastising one in "Call Ya Momma" for her inability to grow up, and meditating on the havoc wreaked by a loss of trust on "When the One You Love Loses Faith." But rather than sounding like a sad sack, Earle conveys a hopeful air of survival and redemption—which mirrors the singer’s ongoing retreat from drug and alcohol abuse and discovery of healthy relationships. On the closer he avers, "Now I never fly alone / I’ve got a place to land." Earle gets nimble support from a lean trio that features former Lambchop guitarist Paul Niehaus, who contributes some gorgeous pedal-steel embellishment. —Peter Margasak
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