Album Review: Justin Townes Earle – Kids in the Street


by: Kidman J. Williams

Artist: Justin Townes Earl

Album: Kids in the Street

Label: New West

Rating: 4.4/5.0

Justin Townes Earle despite recording now for over a decade is not quite the household name that his famous father (Steve Earle) is. His new album Kids in the Street could just be the point of reckoning.

Earle has gotten a lot of publicity on this album, probably more than he ever has and with good reason.

Kids in the Street is a multi-level music smorgasbord of sound, emotions, and comic relief. Earle knows how to put perspective on the sometimes difficult situations of our lives with prophetic poetic prose.

The music itself is nothing that you haven’t heard in the almost 70 year collection of rock music. We have heard this blend of rock/folk/country/blues before, but not in the way that Earle opens up this can of down home black-eyed peas.

The most idiosyncratic part of this great body of work is the distinctive words and timbre of Earle.

The opening song on this album says it all. This is Earle’s answer to the dated “Pink Cadillac” as his object of lust rides by in an epic champagne colored Toyota Corolla in the appropriately titled, “Champagne Corolla.”

The song has that solid rock-n-roll beat accompanied by a horn section and an old school thump that your foot just can’t help but move to.

The fourth track “15-25” isn’t exactly what you might think. Earle cleverly points out those years with the idea of jail time while hitting you with a New Orleans blues sound that again forces you to jump up and shuffle.

The song is not about doing time in prison, it is about those crazy years. We all know them. When I was 15, I thought I knew exactly what the world was and how everything was going to work. Then I started learning just how life really was.

I lived a lot of life in those years, then 25 hit and I realized the party had to stop at some point and as Earle points out in the end of the song, “25 to life.”

There is a something for everyone on this great body of work. Earle explores his folk roots, old rock music, New Orleans swing blues, and even down home delta on the track “If I was the Devil.”

Kids in the Street is not just a country or folk album. This effort is what art should be and shows what music can really do for a persons’ soul. It has those great party songs, but is also the kind of album you take with you on a night drive after a huge argument with your significant other to just escape from it all.

Justin Townes Earle knows how to touch your heart and keep it dancing all through the night with a great bottle of wine.

Kids in the Street comes out May 26, 2017.