Fresh out of rehab, Justin Townes Earle is wasting no time in heading back into the recording studio to lay down some tracks. Sobriety has charged him with a new sense of musical purpose. Calling Harlem River Blues “good for what it was but short of my potential,” Earle is pursuing a cleaner, more radio-friendly sound with the help of Rascal Flatts producer Dann Huff.
“I feel like we’ve taken contemporary Americana with heavy 1930s country, folk, and blues influences about as far as it can go,” said Earle. “I’m excited to skip ahead a few decades to record something more in the spirit of the era in which I actually grew up. Bring on the Blondie and Def Leppard, you know?”
“When I heard that Justin was heading in this direction for his next album, I knew it was obviously something I had to be involved in,” explained Huff, an ’80s rock guitarist turned country producer whose rock sensibility and disdain for country music have made crossover smashes of Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, and Lonestar. “He’s a little old, but I really do think this guy could be the next Justin Bieber.”
“There’s one song in particular, ‘Loving Love,’ that’s gonna blow people away,” effused Mr. Earle. “It was written by Hillary Scott, Kara DioGuardi, and Aimee Mayo, so you know it’s going to be good.”
With new music on the horizon and a national tour with Taylor Swift in the works, Justin’s old Americana pals have been generally, if somewhat reluctantly, supportive of his new direction.
“What the hell,” said Guy Clark, also a longtime friend of Justin’s father. “We’ve all gotta find our own way, so who am I to judge? Whatever comes of this can’t be any worse than ‘Condi, Condi.'”
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