You wouldn't know it from the hobo-esque mug shot on the album cover but Justin Townes Earle is currently feeling quite content with his life.
A married man and father to be, he says "There’s definitely an uplifting aspect to this record because I’m feeling pretty positive".
Thankfully, however, his new collection are not smug songs of domestic bliss but, instead, many tunes address the impact of the "creeping scourge" of gentrification and inner city strife in his home town of Nashville.
This topic is most obvious in the title track when he looks back wistfully to life in low rent accommodation in the early 1990s : "Those weren't better days but they still meant something to me"
Perhaps its significant that this is the first album he has not made in Music City. The fact that it was recorded in Omaha, Nebraska could be construed as him drawing a line under a period of his life.
It's hard to be sure though, his songs sound committed and bluesy but he's the kind of lyricist who is more given to dropping hints about his personal situation rather than being openly confessional.
There is a lightness though, or at least an acceptance. Maybe A Moment has a nice Paul Simon lilt to it and it comes no surprise to find that the bonus track is a cool cover of Graceland.
Still, Same Old Stagolee exemplifies that, musically, he looks further into the past for true inspiration. Gentle rockabilly, country crooning or swing are the styles he favours.
Given their troubled relationship, JTE probably won't thank me for saying that he seems most at home with the kind of bitter sweet material you commonly associate with his Dad, Steve.
Without doubt, both father and son are great song writers and all the indications are that Earle Jr is not one for crying over spilt milk. This, of course, may change when his wife gives birth!
Justin Townes Earle's website