Needing to prove himself simply on account of being Steve Earles son, Justin Townes Earle did just that with his old-soul sparker of a debut album, The Good Life. He bypassed his fathers rebel streak with nary a glance over his shoulder, setting comfortably into breezy storytelling and down-home instrumentation with a cool, collected voice. Last years Midnight at the Movies was stronger still, again referencing Hank Williams but always feeling for the shadows lurking beneath the casual trot of the best country songs. Despite the lonesome reflection of tunes like They Killed John Henry and Black-Eyed Suzy, the centerpiece of Movies is a rousing, affectionate take on the Replacements Cant Hardly Wait. Likewise straddling classic country and its more recent derivations, a motley cast fleshes out the songs around Earles modest guitar and pipes. Theres nothing brash or forced about his songwriting; its as natural as could be, as if it could never have sounded any different. With membership in two previous bands under his belt, not to mention some dark personal side-roads, Earle has come out the other side with a lifetimes worth of material and confidence.
Joe Pug opens for Justin Townes Earle.
Sat., Feb. 13, 8 p.m., 2010