Flyinshoes Review

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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 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

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

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March 2018

Mary Gauthier
95 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
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The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
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At The Helm
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Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans
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Heartbreak Song For The Radio
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30 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
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Fear Not
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Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
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