Justin Townes Earle opts for a singer-songwriter realm that instantly brings to mind Kevin Welch, especially on the gorgeous title track. From there, it's a slow, honky-tonk song entitled What I Mean To You which falls a bit flat early and seems much too forced. The same can be said later on when he romps through the train-chugging Black Eyed Suzy.
When Earle keeps things on the straight and narrow, the performances shine as is the case on They Killed John Henry, a sparse toe tapper that works quite well, even with the harmonies heard on the homestretch. But perhaps the highlight is My Mother's Eyes, which has Earle basically throwing away the strong chorus to concentrate on the stronger verses.
Earle's cover of The Replacements Can't Hardly Wait is great, not quite with the urgency of Westerberg and company, but with the same oomph fuelling it along. And that same intensity is found on the foot-stomping Halfway To Jackson with its bluesy swagger.
The icing on this musical cake is Someday I'll Be Forgiven For This, which is eerily like papa Steve circa Washington Square Serenade Steve Earle has a lot of road left to hoe, but it's good to know that his sound will carry on in his son, one who is slowly but surely escaping that shadow.