Album review: Justin Townes Earle, Midnight at the Movies

Posted by Leilani Polk on Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 3:00 PM

This review comes courtesy of Autopsy IV.

When Justin Townes Earle's debut, The Good Life, came out, I didn't pay it hardly any mind. Months later, when I finally got around to listening to it, I wasn't really expecting anything special.

My what a difference an album makes.

Don't let my tardiness in discovering Earle mislead you. I was in pursuit of Midnight at the Movies the minute I knew promo copies were available and it has been on heavy rotation ever since Bloodshot sent it to me. With The Good Life I was expecting to hear the son of a legend fumble through an album he was only able to make because of his father's name. On Midnight at the Movies, I wondered if he could come close to the masterpiece of The Good Life. Turns out he just may have surpassed it (if that's possible).

With Midnight at the Movies, Earle seems more settled in his resolve to forge his own path and more comfortable with his songwriting. On tracks like "Mama's Eyes," he shows no hesitation about exposing himself to the listener, warts and all. Couple that with the ragtime hop of "Walk Out" and you start to uncover the strength of this album. It's somber, introspective and tender at its core while still managing to maintain a country swagger.

The variety of styles on the album really help to cover its greatest weakness -- its length. Clocking in at a mere 33 minutes, the album seems to end almost as soon as it starts. But as Bobby Womack once said, "Leave them wanting more and you know they'll call you back." With 12 tracks of all killer, no filler, you'll definitely find yourself calling Midnight at the Movies back quite a bit this year. I'll probably be calling it up come year end "Best of" list-making time. For the time being, I'll call just it "Essential Listening."

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