By Heather Berry
When the child of a famous musician announces their musical career, assumptions are made. Are they doing it for love or money? Will they have the talent or be riding on the coattails of their parent? These are, often, unconscious questions that cannot be avoided. But, in the case of Justin Townes Earle, there is a refreshing surprise.
Son to legendary country/rock singer Steve Earle, Townes Earle has certainly made a name for himself, with relentless touring and critical acclaim proving his worth on personal merits. And his night at Manchester’s Deaf Institute certainly proves his love and talent. Entering the crowded room with little grandeur but rapturous applause, Townes Earle is every bit the part. Tall as the day is long, confident yet far from intimidating. Even when regaling stories of his drug addled past, or his penchant for drinking vodka in the morning, or even his brush with prison, he was charming. The fact that each song was introduced with one of these many anecdotes made the music ever more honest. Not many people would admit their faults and flaws to themselves, but Townes Earle declares them for the world to see, delving deeper into them for the audience tonight.
But it is not just his lyrical prowess that is remarkable. He demonstrates his incredible musical ability, a lone man upon the stage for the whole evening. With his acoustic guitar and foot stomping abilities, he creates a world of sound that would impress any country/folk sceptic; even if the occasion foot stomp did send the guitar wiring off! Playing rousing country folk sounds, such as ‘They Killed John Henry’, alongside gentle and truly heartfelt tracks, such as ‘Christchurch Woman’, show the depth to this man’s abilities at being an all round performer. His passion, soul and belief in each word makes it impossible for the audience not to be taken upon a journey with him.
Justin Townes Earle brought his honest and forthright Americana to the intimate Manchester venue and completely won over the crowd on his own merits. It is certainly evident that he is doing it for the love and cathartic nature of music, utilising his incredible musical and lyrical abilities. With talent and honesty like this, it would be hard not to be impressed.