Justin Townes Earle has returned with his 5th album which has a title long enough for the next two, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now. I have a feeling that the title, along with the subject matter of a lot of this album is a reference to his well publicized battles with drugs and his relapse last year. I feel no need to rehash those battles here. If you’re a fan of Americana music you already know all about them, and if you don’t you’re better off for it.
The wife and I recently took off on a 4 day beach getaway up in North Florida and I brought this album along for our listening pleasure. I only mention this ‘cause I wanna explain how intimately I got to know this album over those 4 days. In the end, I expect I spent about 15 hours listening to it and thinking about how I was enjoying it. I’ve seen some people pan the album for various reasons, and I can’t tell you whether or not you’re gonna like the it. I can, however, tell you that I like the cd. I like it a lot. Like, Essential Listening lot, and here are some of my thoughts about it.
The first solid opinion I had on the the album hit me somewhere around Starke. The wife was sleeping and I was in the middle of one of those rainstorms I don’t think you get anywhere outside of Florida. Mentally, I was at total peace, as I love thunderstorms and the brand new tires on the truck, plus the inability to exceed 25 mph and see out the windshield alleviated any hydroplaning worries. There, in the middle of the rain, I realized how perfect this album is for solo road-tripping. The mild pacing of the album seems almost made for driving alone.
The second solid thought I had about the album was how much I hated the song “Unfortunately, Anna” while my third was how “Unfortunately, Anna” sounds like it should be a Counting Crows song. I still don’t like “Unfortunately, Anna” as a JTE song but I am pretty confident I’d love it if the Counting Crows covered it.
The next thought that really settled in was how well the “Memphis sound” fits Justin’s songs. I probably could have talked about this when I was mentioning how good of a road trip album this is, but I wanted to mention it separately. It seems like there is a definite trend in the Americana scene right now to implement horns and keys and justify it by saying they wanted to add some Memphis swag to their sound. I don’t doubt any of them, and some are doing it with great success (see Lucero) but Justin doesn’t sound like he’s “going Memphis” with Nothings Gonna Change, at least…not to me. With Nothings Gonna Change it sounds like Justin tapped into the heart of where his soul currently is. Some reviewers have called it “tired”, others have called it “haggard”, but I think it’s sincere. I really feel like this album’s sound and feel was born out of recovery, and the need for complete honesty with one’s self during that process made its way into the writing and recording of this album.