Listen up, all you little punks. It’s been a while since we posted anything here, but that’s just allowed the anger to swell that much more. Maximize iTunes on your desktop and pause that goddamn La Roux garbage you’re listening to and focus here. The best record of the year is already out (came out in March, as a matter of fact), and it’s not Animal Collective’s. In fact, it’s a country record. But this ain’t your daddy’s country music. That’s right. It’s real country music. Good country music.
It’s sad, actually, that we’re now at the point where I feel it necessary to say “This ain’t your daddy’s country music.” But that’s where we are, so it’s said. I desperately, desperately want all you hipster kiddies in the coastal big cities to have an appreciation for real country music. Maybe you do and I’m being overly defensive. But it bears saying just in case, because it’s important.
I gave Justin Townes Earle‘s second album The Good Life a passing mention at the very end of the post where I listed my highlights of 2008. It didn’t make my top five albums because… well, because it wasn’t all that good. But damned if it didn’t show promise, and damned if JT hasn’t lived up to that promise with this year’s Midnight at the Movies.
Honest, folks, I could write an essay about the myriad ways in which I deeply love each and every track on this album. Long, sordid tales of infatuation, flirtation, passion, betrayal and– ultimately– redemption. Real pulpy stuff, honest.
Like the make-no-bones-about-it, let’s-just-get-this-out-there track about his more-famous old man Steve, “Mama’s Eyes”. “I am my father’s son / I never know when to shut up / I ain’t foolin’ no one / I am my father’s son.” I mean, C’MON.
Or the beautiful title track that opens the album and that’ll make you wanna cuddle up with that special someone. Or the brilliant carefree bluegrass-pitched romp “Walk Out.” Or the elegantly fingerpicked “They Killed John Henry.” Or the drunken swagger, whistlin’-dixie bliss of “What I Mean To You,” arguably the best tumbler-of-whiskey-on-a-piano song since Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” (though in a completely different way, and with notably less piano). The track I’ve posted here, “Poor Fool” is fairly representative amalgamation of these last three examples.
And he covers The Replacements. Not only that, he covers “Can’t Hardly Wait.” It’s fantastic:
He’s touring with Gillian Welch, the only other person to give me this much hope for the state of modern country music since Johnny Cash died. Dude does everything right. He even dresses like Hank I. Just look at that picture above. Bless his heart.
Please, for the love of all that is holy, go buy this album. The world needs more of Justin Townes Earle.