Justin Townes Earle – despite a name that evokes both father Steve and his dad's mentor, Townes Van Zandt – has always had a knack for forging a strong and unusual relationship between roots music's past and its newest arbiters. He made songs about wandering the Lower East Side of Manhattan feel natural against his sledgehammer strums and the beat of an upright bass, and despite his taste for everything that rested outside of country's borders – Memphis soul, swing, blues and rockabilly – he'd never ventured beyond his native Tennessee to record an album or work with an outside producer.
But Kids in the Street, Earle's forthcoming record and his first on New West, does just that. At the production helm is Bright Eyes' Mike Mogis, who took Earle to his studio in Omaha, Nebraska, to make the LP and help the singer-songwriter transition even more heavily away from the traditional folk-country arrangements he grew up around. The album's lead single, "Champagne Corolla," is a subtle poke at the pastiche of an Americana musician cruising around their gentrified neighborhood in a vintage truck, when the people who settled there first toiled for something far more working-class. Stacked with horns and a Motown groove, "Champagne Corolla" is a preview of an album that Earle says will not only tackle some recent life changes – marriage, a baby on the way, a sober existence after struggling with addiction – but wrestle with the ghosts of Nashville, both sonically and physically.
The follow-up to 2015's Absent Fathers, Kids in the Street will be released May 26th on New West – quite notably the record label of Earle's father, with whom he has reportedly had a contentious relationship over the years. Perhaps it's a signal that he's moved on and, realizing the imperfect promise of parenthood, wants to make amends with the past.
Earle will hit the road to support Kids in the Street beginning this spring with a series of shows in his new hometown of Portland, Oregon.
Here's the album's tracklist and Earle's upcoming tour dates.
1. "Champagne Corolla"
2. "Maybe a Moment"
3. "What's She Crying For"
5. "Kids in the Street"
6. "Faded Valentine"
7. "What's Goin' Wrong"
8. "Short Hair Woman"
9. "Same Old Stagolee"
10. "If I Was the Devil"
11. "Trouble Is"
12. "There Go a Fool"
March 14 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge (Solo)
March 25 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge (Solo)
March 29 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge (Solo)
April 6 - Atlanta, GA @ City Winery (Solo)
April 7 - Savannah, GA @ Savannah Music Festival (Solo)
April 28 - Indio, CA @ Stagecoach Festival
April 29 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom
May 3 - Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
May 4 - Austin, TX @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater
May 5 - Houston, TX @ The Heights Theater
May 6 - Lafayette, LA @ Arcadiana Center for the Arts
May 8 - Franklin, TN @ Franklin Theatre
May 9 - Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle
May 11 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
May 12 - Fall River, MA @ Narrows Center for the Arts
May 13 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
May 15 - Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
May 16 - Kent, OH @ The Kent Stage
May 17 - Ann Arbor, MI @The Ark
May 18 - Bloomington, IL @ The Castle Theatre
May 19 - Louisville, KY @ Headliners
May 20 - Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
May 22 - Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall
May 23 - Minneapolis, MN @First Avenue
May 24 - Iowa City, IA @ The Englert Theatre
May 26 - Denver, CO @ The Bluebird Theater
May 28 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The State Room
May 30 - Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theatre
June 2 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim's