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Saturday, July 7, 2012 - Page updated at 05:30 a.m.
Justin Townes Earle and Tristen pack a double punch
By Paul de Barros
Seattle Times jazz critic
A name like Justin Townes Earle suggests serious lineage — and, indeed, it's the moniker of the son of one famous singer-songwriter (Steve Earle) named after another (Townes Van Zandt). That's a lot to live up to, which is maybe why 30-year-old Justin Townes Earle has had his problems from time to time. But since winning the 2011 Americana Music Award for Song of the Year (for "Harlem River Blues") and recording his new, all-live-in-the-studio album, "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now," Earle seems to be sailing on an even keel.
His new album has a gently flowing, urban Americana sound, with horns, organ and tangy electric guitar, and opens with a sad song about hearing his father's voice on the radio and wishing he would call. With a scratchy voice that calls to mind Dr. John, Earle evokes wistful, solitary pain almost offhandedly, as if any other feeling might come as a surprise.
Earle plays here on a double bill with singer-songwriter Tristen Gaspadarek, who goes by her first name only. Tristen also had a great 2011, when the weekly magazine Nashville Scene named "Charlatans at the Gate" one of its Top 50 albums of the year.
Tristen is a tricky, wicked piece of work. She harmonizes deliciously with herself in seemingly innocent tunes delivered in a singsong, bubble-gum voice but manages to tuck darkness just below the surface. Her cheerfully poppy video "Baby Drugs" depicts a girl happily taking a plane flight to Las Vegas to procure for her boyfriend. This should be a great show.
Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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