JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE

KIDS IN THE STREET

Townes Earle’s seventh full-length outing is his first to be recorded outside of Nashville. Despite which, Kids finds the alt. country tastemaker reflecting on his knockabout youth in the Music City of the 80s and 90s, bristling as he considers the unchecked pace of change that has made his hometown all but unrecognisable in recent decades. Unlike Absent Fathers (2015), though, Kids is far from uniformly meditative or introspective. True to Earle’s stellar back-catalogue, it’s a veritable roots sampler, encompassing ample shimmering, locomotive Memphis soul (‘Trouble Is’), nostalgic acoustica (‘Kids In the Street’), and mournful classic country stippled with bluest pedal steel (‘What’s She Crying For’). There are shades of Dixieland (‘What’s Goin’ Wrong’), an update on traditional folk storytelling (‘Same Old Stagolee’), and a slow-burning blues slope (‘If I Was the Devil’). Married, sober and on the cusp of fatherhood, Earle gives over to more sensuous, sweltering, soulful abandon than he has since 2010’s excellent Harlem River Blues. Gareth Hipwell