Single Mothers is the sixth studio album from Justin Townes Earle, and to me it's one of his most assured albums. I felt that on his last album Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now he was reaching for something and he didn't quite hit the mark. His move towards southern soul tested his vocal abilities and it seemed at times like he was over singing. On Single Mothers he has kept the soul but tailored it to his voice and the results are fantastic, the songs have a more personal touch similar to his work on Harlem River Blues.
Worried About The Weather is soulful and Townes Earle just glides into the song, plagued by doubt and fear over whether he will be loved, anyone who says pedal steel can't be soulful should take a listen.
Worried, worried bout the weather
Whether you'll love me baby
Whether you'll love me
Now the wind is pickin up
I seek shelter through a bustin storm
Single Mothers sees Townes Earle reflecting on growing up in a single parent home, each word drenched in pain and sadness but with a stinging rebuke attached. Townes Earle is one of the most heartfelt lyricists performing today, every word aching and clinging.
Little eyes, don;t see the little lines
Between wrong and right
Between day and night
But you get them started stealing, they will be bitter and cold
Single Mothers, absent fathers, broken homes
Picture in a Drawer is classic country, it's broken hearted and despairing in the hands of some it would become a cliche but with Townes Earle he creates a vista of darkness but in a captivating manner. The despair is visual, that is something that Townes Earle does so well, each song is like a vignette, you can see it unfold in your imagination as you listen to the words.
Mama please don't come over
This ain't nothing you can help
You'll be the first to know
When I come around
I'm not drowning I'm just seeing how long I can stay down
Mama she's gone, just a picture in a drawer
The kind of hurt that takes a rainy day, and hurts that much more
Wanna Be A Stranger sound like it came out of Willie Mitchell's studio, some nice guitar work, a rolling rhythm, Memphis style. White Gardenia is another great country ballad, you will know her by her white dress, white shoes and a white gardenia. It's Cold In This House is the best song on the album, it's probably one of the best vocals I've heard Townes Earle perform, a great slice of southern soul. Single Mothers just might be Townes Earle's most musically concise album yet, lyrically that same penchant for visceral world weary laments only gets better.