Photos by Mark J. Smith
When Gill Landry opened for Justin Townes Earle, his songs and banter brought back some great memories of taking pictures of the buskers on Royal Street in New Orleans. The Louisiana singer/songwriter is perhaps best known for his work with Old Crow Medicine Show, but on this evening, he delivered a number of songs from his new self titled album, including “Long Road,” “Funeral in My Heart” and “Just Like You.” Judging from the quality of his songwriting and presentation, he won’t need to busk on Rue Royal anymore.
Joined by Paul Niehaus on electric and steel guitar, Earle then performed many of the songs off his two latest records as well as a few off of his previous ones. His two latest, Single Mothers and Absent Fathers, were initially supposed to be a double album, but Earle instead released them separately within months of each other.
I had seen Earle perform three times before, and for some reason this particular evening he seemed to be a bit more comfortable in his skin. With smiles and laughter, he didn’t hold back from chatting with the audience as he explained what each song was about. He still carries a bit of a chip on his shoulder, however, and he made sure the audience heard his opinions on current country music and other things he doesn’t like much.
His songwriting is excellent, and he has obviously had some great influences in that department. A truly remarkable storyteller, “One More Night in Brooklyn” and “Christchurch Woman” both describe his feelings and a sense of place so vividly that the audience can easily feel them as well. Ditto in regards to the angst driven “Harlem River Blues.” Earle introduced “Call Ya Momma,” a well-paced, somewhat angry song with the disclaimer that someone told him it was sexist. His reply? “It wasn’t sexist… bitch.”
Justin Townes Earle’s voice has a Texas grit that fits perfectly with his songs, and with his masterful lyrics and storytelling ability, he communicates just exactly what he means for you to hear.
– Mark J. Smith