Justin Townes Earle cleans up and gets ready for a new album in 2012


:: Justin Townes Earle. ::

:: eTown - Lincoln Center :: January 26 ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: January 27 ::

By Brian Turk

Justin Townes Earle started last year off with a bang, literally. Earle has been known to have his ups and downs with addiction, and has been very open and honest about his problem with shooting heroin, or “banging dope.” So, when the calendar flipped from 2010 to 2011, just one year ago, Earle — the son of Texas singer/songwriter Steve Earle, found himself struggling to come to terms with the fact that he had inherited not only his father’s musical genes, but he also picked up some of the same bad habits his father has had in the past.

Although the year may have started off rocky for  the younger Earle, it ended in achievement, recognition and a new found perspective. He recently finished recording a new album which is not yet titled and will be released in the spring of 2012, and the title track off of his 2010 release Harlem River Blues was chosen as song of the year by the American Music Association.

The Marquee got to speak with Earle as he was enjoying some time off of the road and out of the studio. “It’s been a very interesting year and everything has kind of started to take off for me. I am trying to take a break right now, and just sit back and kind of take a breath before it all starts up again,” he said. “I just got done making a new record so that’s great. But at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 I wound up falling back into heroin and ended up in treatment. I wound up coming out of it just in time to recover and pull off the tour and this record. I had to decide that I didn’t want to shoot dope again ever in my life and I had to move on. I am definitely not bullet-proof and I am just as susceptible to those problems now, if not more, than I ever was. You are going to slip every once in a while. I realized that winning Song Of The Year at the American Music Awards and being able to play places like Carnegie Hall are prizes that only come to the hardworking, not to the sloppy junkies.”

Now that he has rededicated himself as a hardworking musician, and made up for some lost time, Earle expressed that he felt like a lot of his younger years were wasted. “I think things have started to come back my way in a big way. I still have a ways to go, but I can say even with the times I’ve wasted in my early twenties and teens, I will turn 30 pretty happy with my accomplishments so far in life. Five years ago that would not have been the case,” he said.

This untitled new album is a representation of the year’s events, as well as an extension of a sound he explored on Harlem River Blues. “During the making of Harlem River Blues I made some inquiries into the life and world of 1960s Memphis soul. So I just kinda decided to continue with the sound that I got off of ‘Slippin’ and Sliddin’’ and things like that. That sound really got to me and it’s been one of my favorite types of music for a really long time. I definitely didn’t make a soul record; I made a singer/songwriter record that is heavily influenced by soul music. The record is also pretty dark, it definitely exorcises some demons,” said Earle.

He continued to explain that his writing has always been a cathartic way to process his thoughts and work things out. “When I write songs, I seem to come up with better answers to life’s problems than I do in real life,” he said.

But, in order to get the sound he envisioned for this album, Earle decided that he needed to take himself and his whole band to the mountains of North Carolina, in order to focus everyone on the project and eliminate outside interference. “Echo Mountain Studios was amazing and the staff was great. They run a really tight ship. It’s not only a beautiful area, but it’s far away. We recorded this record live, there is not one single overdub on this record. All the vocals are from scratch. I needed everybody’s full concentration. I was able to get people to pay attention a bit more by taking them up the mountain,” he laughed.

With an eventful year under his belt and a new one now begun, Earle will be taking to the road and said he will be playing material off of his forthcoming album with a new outlook for a hopeful future.

The senior Earle also had a good year, with his album I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Folk Album. The album is named after the Hank Williams song and is also the title of Earle’s novel, which features William’s ghost as a character.


:: Justin Townes Earle. ::
:: eTown - Lincoln Center :: January 26 ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: January 27 ::


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