Justin Townes Earle Harlem River Blues on Vinyl LP
Justin Townes Earle is an anomaly. He’s as tall as the day is long, all angles and elbows and a hard stare, both welcoming and deadly serious. He’s Nashville North, all set up in lower Manhattan now, just like his hero Woody Guthrie, with twang and charm intact.
Compared to the much-lauded Midnight at the Movies, Harlem River Blues is more mature and increasingly nuanced, while still embracing the raw voice and clean sound of previous standout tracks like “Mama’s Eyes.” Harlem River Blues kicks off red-hot with the title track’s choir of backing singers and electric guitar, slow dances through a decrepit tenement on “One More Night in Brooklyn,” and swings à la Jerry Lee Lewis on “Move Over Mama.” “Working for the MTA” is a modern day railway ballad, embracing the labor movement in classic folk singer style over some heartbreaking pedal steel from Calexico’s Paul Niehaus.
With percussive guitar, killer standup bass lines by Bryn Davies (Patty Griffin, Guy Clark) and a guest appearances from Jason Isbell and Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show, this record hums along like a 6 train jumpin’ the tracks and heading straight for the Tennessee state line.
Justin Townes Earle Harlem River Blues Track Listing
1. Harlem River Blues
2. One More Night In Brooklyn
3. Move Over Mama
4. Working for the MTA
6. Slippin’ and Slidin’
7. Christchurch Woman
8. Learning to Cry
9. Ain’t Waitin’
10. Rogers Park
11. Harlem River Blues (Reprise)