Steve Earle & The Dukes – J.T. (2021) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Steve Earle & The Dukes – J.T. (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 34:41 minutes | 757 MB | Genre: Country
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © New West Records

Steve Earle & The Dukes are announcing their forthcoming album “J.T.”, featuring songs from Justin Townes Earle, who passed away on August 20, 2020 in Nashville. The album will be released digitally on what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday, January 4, 2021. CD and vinyl formats will be released later this winter via New West Records.

100% of the artist advances and royalties from J.T. will be donated to a trust for Etta St. James Earle, the three-year-old daughter of Justin and Jenn Earle.

Months after the August 2020 death of singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle at age 38, his father offers the world a stunning celebration of life—by covering Justin’s songs. Comparisons will be made, but they always were. While Steve Earle has always been something of a wildman, all snarl and dishevelment, his son often cultivated a genteel, old-fashioned appearance. But Justin was just as wildly captivating live: howling and booming while he slapped his guitar and rolled his eyes. They both walked the path of Americana, but Justin easily veered off into more traditional county, folk, gospel and Memphis soul. Hearing Steve cover these sounds would be interesting even if you removed the genetics. He fills every corner of the sparse “I Don’t Care” and folksy “They Killed John Henry” with warmth; the Hank-meets-blues rag “Ain’t Glad I’m Leaving” is turned into something so raw it’s terrifying and thrilling. You can hear Steve’s every sigh and grunt, like the whole thing might go off the rails at any time. He brings a zydeco feel to “Harlem River Blues”—a slice of Guthrie Americana infused with soul and joy that belie the lyrics (“Lord, I’m goin’ uptown to the Harlem River to drown”)—and roughs up the romantic “Maria” just enough to underscore the Westerberg qualities. And his version of the Civil War Ballad “Lone Pine Hill” performs a shape-shifting trick. Justin’s delivery of weary lines like “After four long years/ I just can’t tell you what the hell I’ve been fighting for” always sounded like a young, scared soldier already afraid of future memories. Steve, with all the wear and tear on display, is the embodiment of that future: speeding up the tempo to something wilder, a subtle marching drum beat summoning up the regret. Meanwhile, on “Champagne Corolla”—a jubilant slice of rug-cutting Memphis soul—Steve pumps in a rockabilly vibe; it’s more Sun Records than Stax. His version struts like the brassy original, but relies on cello instead of horns as the winkingly clever lyrics (some of Justin’s most playful) bounce off the melody. “You can’t trust a rich girl/ No farther than you can throw her/ Need a middle-class queen riding by in a champagne Corolla.” Equally poetic is the bleak “Saint of Lost Causes”: “Between a wolf and a shepherd/ Who do you think has killed more sheep?” Justin’s version is all noir cool, while you can practically feel the heat coming off Steve’s swamp-blues take. Justin once said, “My dad likes to put as many words as he can into a line, whereas I like to put as few as I can.” But “Last Words,” the only Steve Earle original on J.T., finds father honoring son by not cramming words into every line. Instead he unfurls only the purest, sobering yet sentimental thoughts: “Witness to the first breath that you ever drew/ I wish I could have held you when/ You left this world/ Like I did then.” – Shelly Ridenour

01. Steve Earle & The Dukes – I Don’t Care (01:54)
02. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Ain’t Glad I’m Leaving (02:52)
03. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Maria (02:46)
04. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Far Away In Another Town (03:06)
05. Steve Earle & The Dukes – They Killed John Henry (02:34)
06. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Turn Out My Lights (02:35)
07. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Lone Pine Hill (02:43)
08. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Champagne Corolla (03:35)
09. Steve Earle & The Dukes – The Saint of Lost Causes (05:01)
10. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Harlem River Blues (03:10)
11. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Last Words (04:21)


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