Justin Townes Earle Readies New Single in Wake of Label Brawl

The outspoken singer-songwriter looks ahead with new music and label

Justin Townes Earl
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Justin Townes Earl
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Justin Townes Earle will release a new record this fall, ending a two-and-a-half year break from the recording studio with his first album for Vagrant Records.

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Previously signed to Bloodshot Records — the one-time home of Ryan Adams, the Old 97's and Neko Case — Earle, the son of hardcore country icon Steve Earle, became a free agent in 2012 after completing the terms of his contract with the release of his fifth album, Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now. He left Bloodshot on amicable terms, but his next deal — with Communion Records, a British label co-owned by Mumford & Sons keyboardist Ben Lovett — seems less than friendly. Earle took to Twitter last December, furious with the demands of his new label, whom he said expected him to supply them with 30 new songs, which the label would then whittle down into a single album. Earle, who either neglected to read the fine print of his contract or wasn't made aware of the terms, refused.

"I have now learned that you can never trust a bunch of babies that ain’t worked a day in their lives," he wrote on December 15th. "May Shane McGowan kick their asses. The only thing I hate about business is that it's frowned upon to pistol whip the competition. Tweets are gonna be angry for awhile. Just found out I won’t be making a record for a while due to a bunch of pussies in an office. Never working with another record label."

Three days later, he added, "So I am being told that I agreed to write 30 songs and let the label 'help' make the record. That [doesn't] even sound like me! Like I would ever let some little twit fucking comb through my work. And calling me a liar, well, them is fighting words. Anytime bitch's!"

After a few follow-up tweets, including one in which he made it clear his beef wasn't with Bloodshot, but with Communion, Earle remained silent on the issue for months, leading fans to believe it would be a long, long wait for his next album. As it turns out, Earle's sixth record will appear before the year is up. Details are scarce at the moment, but Vagrant Records, which counts the 1975, Black Joe Lewis and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as members of its roster, has already added Earle to the label's website, and a short summertime tour may result in some sneak previews of the new tunes.

 

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