Aftermath: Justin Townes Earle, Gaining on His Dad and Lightnin' Hopkins at House of Blues

Categories: Live Shots
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Photos by Craig Hlavaty

It seems every time Aftermath encounters Justin Townes Earle live, the guy has peeled another layer off himself revealing another astounding bit of his promise. Barely three years into his career, Earle is seemingly moving at an accelerated rate, even if the casual listener or viewer can't quite discern what it is that's shaping up.

Opening for the Pogues Thursday night at the House Of Blues, Earle came out flying solo. His sideman Cory Younts left a few weeks back to take on other endeavors, leaving Earle all by his lonesome onstage. Younts' trademark harmonicas and mandolin were missed, but Earle filled in the blanks with his own manic-skiffle guitar lines. Being out front by himself gives Earle's songs, especially ones like "What I Mean To You" and "Poor Fool," a sweetly sad twinge. Most of Earle's songs are about walking the world alone, giving his solitary appearance all the more creedence.

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Near the end of his 45-minute slot, Earle pulled out Lightnin' Hopkins' "Bad Gasoline" and ripped the lungs out of it while shredding his own. If on the next album the man straps on an electric guitarist and hires a bassist, we won't be surprised in the slightest. As well as Earle can croon, he's get a howl in him, akin to that of the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach.

Aftermath is patiently staying tuned for an electric Earle album, all youthful piss and vitriol. Closing out with the Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait" and his own "Midnight at The Movies," the newly bespectacled Earle began channeling his favorite beat writers, invoking Gregory Corso and old, squatty post-WWII New York City in the latter.

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