Justin Townes Earle- Midnight At the Movies

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Justin Townes Earle may be well known for being the son of country/Americana artist Steve Earle, but as his career continues to move forward it seems that he will truly stand on his own. Though his sophomore effort Midnight At the Movies has some similar musical styles when compared to his father’s, Justin Townes Earle has the storytelling ability and variety of material that is sure to interest listeners. And despite the fact that Americana is everywhere these days, this album is strong enough to make it a top contender in the genre.

His father may be almost entirely focused on politically themed lyrics these days, but Justin Townes Earle is more focused on telling stories about his life and experiences. Though he doesn’t always go as far as to create vivid, elaborate stories like some Americana/country artists do Earle has picked events to talk about that are both personal and common. There are songs that seem to be directly tied to his experiences, but there are also plenty of tracks that most people will be able to relate to. It also helps that Earle has a great voice that is filled with energy despite the fact that it is laid back in style. His vocals have a slight country twang to them, but it is never heavy enough to turn away listeners who don’t like traditional country and prefer alt-country more.

Midnight At the Movies seems to always be branching off into new directions, but the direction that each song takes ties into the entire album as a whole. What I mean by this is that one moment Justin Townes Earle might be playing acoustic guitar that has more of a folk vibe to it while the next he adopts a country western or blues vibe. But no matter which direction he pushes his instrumental work, he always ensures that these styles fit together with one another to form a seamless listening experience. What Earle has also done is create a release that has a distinctly American feeling to it, as the tracks on Midnight At the Movies seem to be representative of the American spirit from a variety of different time periods. It works incredibly well, and it is impressive that one man is able to channel so much into one disc.

Justin Townes Earle’s sophomore release is one hell of an album and it is sure to be considered a classic by many. What Earle has managed to do is craft a release that is country enough for the country western fans to enjoy, but folk/alternative enough for those who don’t usually find themselves interested in the genre. That in itself says a lot, and with the way things are going I wouldn’t be surprised if this young singer/songwriter finds himself at the same level of popularity at his father in a very short period of time.


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