BY JOHN B. MOORE
Recorded during the same sessions as last year’s Single Mothers, Absent Fathers is a continuation of Justin Townes Earle exorcising the ghosts of his turbulent relationship with his musician father (who, it’s worth noting, also just released a new album, Terraplane, reviewed HERE). But then again, just about every record the younger Earle had put out has been mining that relationship for material.
The fact that Justin is such a skilled writer keeps it from sounding like a skipping record. But there is something a bit more personal about this one, as the title so blatantly describes. Lyrically, he is as brutally honest as ever in a song like “Round the Bend” (“You’re mama’s only boy, your daddy’s only shame).
As a listener there is a tad awkwardness to hearing the ins and outs of this father/ son relationship, especially if you’re a fan of the elder Earle. It’s almost akin to hearing the neighbors fight, and then running into them as you go to check the mail. But the music here is so damn sincere, from the melancholy pedal steel to Justin’s lonesome vocals, that you really don’t care.
While not his best effort to date, there are still some standout songs on this one, like “When the One You Love Loses Faith in You,” and “Round the Bend,” two tunes that show the legacy of folks like Guy Clark and John Prine have been seamlessly handed down to the next generation.
Another solid confessional album for Earle.
DOWNLOAD: “Why,” “Round the Bend” and “When the One You Love Loses Faith”