Midnight At The Movies
If you didn’t look at the songwriting credits, you’d swear the songs were penned on the stoop of a one-pump filling station in dust bowl era Oklahoma, the smoke-filled song and dream factories of Tin Pan Alley, or at the back door of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville. Justin effortlessly taps the romanticism imbued in the beaten-soled travelogues and mythos of Woody Guthrie; the lounging around a campfire at a work camp and the edgy angst of a wintry Minneapolis (yeah, just try to get that mandolin line from the cover of the ‘Mats’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” out of your head.)
Midnight at the Movies is held firm by Justin’s astonishing vision and conviction, yet roams o’er the vast landscape of American music without so much as a stumble. From the deft ear for orchestration and ambient arrangement reminiscent of Randy Newman right through, somehow, the countrypolitan cool of Lambchop and hipster retro vibes of Palace Brothers or Magnetic Fields (simply look to the title track for proof), to the amber smooth swing of the Ray Price smilin’ thru the heartache school of country (“What I Mean To You,” “Poor Fool”), to the immediacy and disarming simplicity of country blues (“They Killed John Henry”), to songs that tell a novel’s worth of emotion in a few lines (“Mama’s Eyes”), Justin Townes Earle pulls it all off with a confidence and candor that tells the listener that the daring exhibited on his debut album The Good Life only hinted at the growth to come.