Justin Townes Earle: Kids in the Street

Emily Zemler on July 13, 2017

Kids in the Street marks the first time that Nashville musician Justin Townes Earle has elected to work with an outside producer. The artist enlisted Mike Mogis, best known for his work with Conor Oberst, to helm his seventh album and that influence gives the songs an extra sonic boost. The real magic still comes from Earle, though, who has made a grown-up album about grown-up things. The tracks touch on his recent marriage and new fatherhood, and recount his efforts to get sober and positively change his life. The title track is nostalgic, thoughtful and deeply affecting, showcasing Earle’s skill with the type of storytelling songwriting that feels classic and timeless. The singer’s past two efforts, 2014’s Single Mothers and 2015’s Absent Fathers, battled their own demons, searching for a type of meaning that was relevant to Earle during those years. But now his music has taken on an uplifting edge. There’s a positivity here, especially on tracks like buoyant indie rocker “Short Hair Woman” and poignant “Maybe a Moment,” and that sensibility resonates throughout the music—and then outward. Closer “There Go a Fool” is especially well thought, a moody ballad that deals with being out on the town drinking. “There go a man without a care in the world/ he got nothing to lose,” Earle croons, clearly realizing that he now has everything to lose—and everything to gain. It’s a touching realization and a particularly impactful ending to the album.

Artist: Justin Townes Earle
Album: Kids in the Street
Label: New West