Steve Earle J.T.

REVIEW: Steve Earle & the Dukes, J.T.

J.T. is a rough experience for any fan of either Steve Earle or his late son Justin Townes Earle.

Steve Earle & the Dukes, J.T. (New West)

When musician Justin Townes Earle died of a suspected overdose last summer, it wasn’t too long before his father announced that he would release a tribute album as he had for his two late pals Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. There’s, of course, an unfathomable sadness to paying tribute to the songs of your own son when he has succumbed to the demons that also plagued you for decades, and in that respect, J.T. is a rough experience for any fan of either (or, in my case, both) of the Earles. Earle Sr. favours straight-ahead bluegrass-adjacent readings for many of the versions, stripping away some of his son’s experimentations with Memphis soul in order to let the songs speak for themselves. It’s a rough, emotional listen — though never more than on the album’s last song and sole original, “Last Words.” It is exactly what it sounds like, and I have not been able to listen to the whole thing yet. 8/10

“Lone Pine Hill” from J.T. by Steve Earle & the Dukes

For more about Steve Earle, please visit his website.

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