JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – ” Dies At Just 38 Years Of Age “

Posted: August 24, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Justin Townes Earle, an acclaimed US songwriter and son of Steve Earle, has died, in news confirmed on the artist’s Facebook page on Sunday night.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin,” the post read. “So many of you have relied on his music and lyrics over the years and we hope that his music will continue to guide you on your journeys. You will be missed dearly.”

Named for his father’s friend and idol Townes Van Zandt, Earle, 38, battled addiction throughout his life. He released eight albums across the course of his career, which saw him honoured twice at the Americana Music awards including for his best-known song, “Harlem River Blues”.

Many have paid tribute to the artist on Twitter, with the musician Samantha Crain reflecting on their friendship: “Such a tremendous songwriter. He took me on two tours and always treated me so kindly. He understood struggle, he understood joy I saw him at the peaks and valleys of both through the 13 years I knew him.” His friend and collaborator Jason Isbell said: “Had a lot of good times and made a lot of good music with JTE. So sad for his family tonight.”

“When you start with my middle and last names,”said  Earle, “how much worse can the expectations be? My father is one of the greatest songwriters who’s ever lived, and I couldn’t write a song like [revered singer-songwriter] Townes Van Zandt if my life depended on it. But you know going through the door you’re gonna be judged based on that, so you better be ready.”

By the time he was 14, Earle was doing residencies in the competitive Nashville songwriter’s scene. It was the mid-1990s, and artists in the so-called alternative country movement, spearheaded by acts such as Uncle Tupelo, BR-549 and Neko Case, were mixing post-punk energy with honky-tonk twang. Earle’s first three records were released by Bloodshot Records, one of the drivers of the scene and inheritors to Steve Earle’s 1980s blue-collar barroom country. Earle was an on-and-off member of the raucous country-rock band the Sadies. As Earle gained confidence, he committed to being a solo artist.

The writer and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib praised Earle as “an incredible writer of narrative – stories that flourished beyond the music they were laid over”. the NPR music critic Ann Powers described his last album, “The Saint of Lost Causes”, as “a powerful road map of America … we’ve lost someone with real vision.”

Earle is survived by his mother Carol-Ann Hunter, his wife, Jenn Marie, and their daughter, Etta St. James Earle.

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