Justin Townes Earle: Single Mothers

Justin Townes Earle Credit: Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle has kicked some addictions, but to judge from these new tracks, women still grip him in their throes. "Picture in a Drawer" is a girlfriend-gone crying session directed into the lap of the singer's mom; "White Gardenias," with Billie Holiday's trademark flora and references to her hometown, channels one of her aching ex-lovers. Earle's old-timey country and folk sound tilts toward blues and rock here (the pedal-steeled soul of "Worried Bout the Weather"; the Stonesy guitar swagger of "Burning Pictures"). And his phrasing, always nuanced, is more emotive than ever. It suggests a life where songs are the only painkillers that still work.