JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE Kids In The Street gets 5/10

Justin Townes Earle
Kids In The Street
New West


Justin Townes Earle should never be short of something to write about. He has a famous father, was using drugs as a teenager, spent time in jail, had fist fights and then worked his way to sobriety. His latest record is the first he has recorded since he has become married, and is also the first to be recorded outside of Nashville. This time out, Earle packed his bags for Nebraska and teamed up with Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) for Kids In The Street.

Earle has never been one to pull solely from his country roots and has regularly added many flavours to his albums, but with each record that he moves further into classic soul territory, he is losing a little of his bite. Kids In The Street for the most part is not as drab as Earle can be, but it isn’t all flowers and unicorns either.

As with his last couple of albums, this one is sure to come into its own when played live. Champagne Corolla is a cars and girls song wrapped in a downbeat soul blanket, and is the high point of this collection. Prison ditty 15-25 is flaccid and Faded Valentine is sweet enough, although best suited as background music on a casual shopping expedition.

Just when things are becoming too overblown, Earle strips things back and throws his words away as if he has a mouthful of marbles on the folk tale Same Old Stagolee. It is this simplicity that has served him so well in the past and is a welcome reminder here. There Goes a Fool also has enough twang and harmony to excuse Earle of some of his misfires.

On Kids In The Street, Earle spends a lot of his time bemoaning the gentrification of East Nashville. It may be a hot topic with any of his town planner mates, but it is a boring as batshit topic for anyone who turns to Earle for a good dose of country heartbreak. Kids In The Street is a disappointment.