Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now

Justin Townes Earle has kicked addictions before, but it seems the one he’ll never be able to overcome is the most dangerous of all: heartbreak. Though these 10 songs are dressed with excellent instrumentation, including gorgeous electro-glide guitar by Calexico’s Paul Niehaus, Bryn Davies’ fine upright bass and a suitably subtle horn section, even on upbeat tracks like the R&B/honky-tonker “Baby’s Got a Bad Idea,” they never obscure the ache that permeates Earle’s soul and manifests itself in his weary, weathered voice. It’ll take him only a few words to break your heart, too, with lines like “Hear my father on the radio … sometimes I wish that he’d just call”  (“Am I That Lonely Tonight?”) and “Maybe I should trace my life to the night when my folks first met/maybe I could find the moment where my father broke my mother’s heart in half” (“Movin’ On”). Earle often uses his pen to expose his traumas, parental and otherwise. Somehow, he continually manages not only to outdo his previous efforts, but to explore and evolve musically as well. Kid’s already proven the equal of his namesakes. And he’s only getting better. — Lynne Margolis