Midnight at the Movies

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I ain’t fooling no one/I am my father’s son, Justin Townes Earle sings on “Mama’s Eyes,” one of 12 songs on Midnight at the Movies. And while it’s true that his dad, Steve, is one of country’s greatest songwriters, Justin’s second album finds the younger Earle carving out a path for himself that shares little in common with the elder’s work—excepting, perhaps, a dedication to writing forthright songs filled with telling details. Like last year’s rawboned The Good Life, Midnight draws deeply on classic country, folk and blues influences. But unlike that album, here Justin casts his songs in more varied musical settings (none more unexpected than the title cut’s jazzy reverie). The only slight misstep is a cover of The Replacements’ 1987 classic “Can’t Hardly Wait” that hews much too closely to the original. As the rest of Midnight at the Movies demonstrates, Justin Townes Earle need not stand in the shadow of singer/songwriters who came before him—even those with whom he shares a last name.

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