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Justin Townes Earle

Single Mothers – 2014 (Vagrant)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Justin Townes Earle

We've all heard Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" more times than we can count and have likely played air guitar to it many of those times too. And the lifestyle it celebrates is one few Americans experience throughout their lives. You know, being able to love 'em and leave 'em while going on to the next town. Justin Townes Earle's "Single Mothers" presents - at least in part - the consequences of adults trying to live that lifestyle. With its title cut, Earle sings about "Single mothers, absent fathers, broken homes." We may want to live free as a bird, but there are many times negative consequences associated with our actions.

Earle's weary voice is also perfectly suited for this mostly sad collection of songs. He's suitably backed by empathetic blues/country musicianship. The pedal steel that sturdily supports "Today And A Lonely Night" is simply beautiful, for example. Earle closes the album with a chugging rocker that speaks to the sometimes nearly impossible task of forgetting a certain memorable lover. "Aren't you tired of telling yourself, one day I'll forget her?" before continuing, "Aren't you tired of startin' fires and burnin' pictures." It sounds exactly like a song his dad, Steve Earle, might have written - especially when he admits, "Everyone who walks out, takes a little bit more of you with her."

Like father, like son, indeed. "Single Mothers" may not put a spring in your step, but it might make you think twice the next time temptation comes around.