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Single Mothers

Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle

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.

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