Just like his famously troubled father, Justin Townes Earle has often generated as much press for his substance-fueled escapades as his musical prowess. Thankfully, that genetic predilection has been tempered with a similarly potent gift for song craft and creative evolution, two elements that have distinguished Earle's catalog to date, particularly his last album, the sacred-meets-secular traditional modernism of 2010's "Harlem River Blues."
With his fifth and latest, "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now," Earle once again expands his musical parameters and explores the wide range of music that has defined Memphis, from lushly arranged horn-and-sweat soul (the rousing Dr. Johnesque boogie blues of Baby's Got a Bad Idea) to spartan singer/songwriter folk (the dry country balladeering of Won't Be the Last Time) to combinations of the two (the sorry-baby sway of the title track).
On the mournful opener, Am I That Lonely Tonight, Earle seems to address his acorn-oak issues with touches of Van Morrison and Jeff Tweedy ("Hear my father on the radio, singing, 'Take me home again,'/300 miles from the Carolina coast, I'm skin and bones again/Sometimes I wish that I could get away, sometimes I wish that he'd just call/Am I that lonely tonight, I don't know").
There is an air of immediacy on "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now," a direct result of the whirlwind four-day, all-live/no-overdub sessions that produced the album, but that recording frenzy is perfectly counterbalanced by Earle's laconic delivery, even on the most energetic songs. "Nothing's Gonna Change" is yet another dusty jewel in Justin Towne Earle's beautiful and slightly askew crown.