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Justin Townes Earle - Harlem River Blues


Echoes..echoes..names...places....water....and is that JTE waving or drowning on the cover...or is it cast members of Oh Brother Where Art Thou.....no not this time...remember this is the Harlem river not the Mississippi...but it sounds so southern ..


Although JTE is having his tussles and tribulations he ain't waiting in that water to be saved..or is he. Back story is pure..nobody could have better antecedents to join the Texas Songwriter aristocracy but until now I been unsure. Sure have been some gems in previous two albums ..but overall can he climb on Bob Dylan's coffee table?...well ....

Yes indeed now he can...and how.

First track convinces..convinces in a Bob Dylan/Buddy Miller way. His is modern timeless music. exquisitely produced and just full of more than reverb. This actually summons ghosts and it has that 'rightous' feel that Levon Helm talked about. More warmth and valve smokiness than mercury wildness but hell this only his third record. Working for the MTA and Wanderin slide effortlessly back to Greenwich Village circa 1963 and who says if he was playing next to Zimmerman which one would get that Columbia deal..yes its that good.

This kind of record is all about myth. It has its craft and its precision and its historical echoes and should be produced on shellac but at the end of the day its about the writing. The writing throughout is superb..up there with best of Daddy and Uncle Townes. Now I rarely get this effusive but shit this is the real deal.

I could pick out highlights but there so many where to start....the muscle shoals start to 'Slippin and Slidin' is spot on. If Otis was alive I could hear him singing this. Elsewhere apart from Jimmy Rodgers i also hear hints of Micky Newbury and Charlie Rich and hell those are two mountains of modern American song to try and climb and JTE does it so well.

I doubt if there will be a better songwriter record released this year. It is automatically my number one. Forget the Ryan Bingham career hype this is the true story of country music delivered beautifully.

'Christchurch Woman' is an instant classic. It the song Ryan Adams never quite wrote despite his torrent of songs. It contains some beautiful guitar work from Jason Isbell?

Americana....shit the term overused and abused by some third rate shit these days but this deserves the title totally. This is very good americana music. Everybody else you better raise our game and dad watch out ..remember what happens in Shakespeare plays ....

JTE is stealing crowns all over...beg, steal or borrow this music

http://www.bloodshotrecords.com/album/harlem-river-blues

Townes must be be pickin and grinnin up there in heaven...

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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