Sunday, 12 April 2015

Justin Townes Earle- Northcote Social Club 10.04.15

It's always good to get the news that Justin Townes Earle is swinging past this neck of the woods, I think this is the third time I've seen him perform and he leaves it all on the stage, he is a great performer. He can sometimes be a bit ragged with his guitar work but his voice never falters. He is a prolific artist 7 albums in eight years and his output for the lost part has been consistent. In the same tradition of his namesake Townes Van Zandt he writes about heartbreak and sadness as good as any writer out there, his tumultuous life providing appropriate source material. Midnight at The Movies and Harlem River Blues to me were his standout albums a refreshing blend of country, rockabilly and soulful ballads and he slipped quite a few from these albums into his live set on Friday night.

The Northcote was packed and there was a good crowd early for support act Sam Outlaw, hailing from L.A his debut album Angeleno was produced by none other than Ry Cooder. Even more noteworthy is his upcoming U.S tour as support for Dwight Yoakam. Sam has a great voice a real heartfelt country swoon and his material is personal and honest. One of the highlights was Ghost Town written about returning to his home town for his mothers funeral. Justin came out and kicked off with Mama's Eyes from Midnight At The Movies a poignant examination of his close relationship with his mother and the somewhat strained relationship he has with his father Steve Earle. The humorous One More Night in Brooklyn followed from the Harlem River Blues album. The title track from his 2014 Single Mothers provides another insight into the difficulties he faced growing up with a single parent. Worried About The Weather showcases his ability to do slow southern style burners, he offers White Gardenia as a tribute to Billie Holiday who would have been 100 years old this month. Another highlight from Harlem River is Christchurch Woman perhaps one of the most loneliest songs I've heard, with just his guitar and trembling voice he nails it to appreciative applause from the crowd. He closes the show with Harlem River Blues an evocative tribute to New York, would have loved to have seen him close with Can't Hardly Wait but it wasn't to be.

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