Singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle's hilarious outgoing voice-mail message, which juxtaposes a segment from Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely" with the declaration "I just want you to know you smelled really good last night," may not provide a window into his soul, but it offers a glimpse into his appeal. The son of original country bad boy Steve Earle and the quasi-namesake of the late Townes Van Zandt, Earle the younger (appearing alongside McCarthy Trenching and the Felice Brothers) has got smarts and sass in abundance, yet he's also blessed with a deep knowledge of musical forebears outside the family. These attributes come together in The Good Life, his debut for the Bloodshot imprint, which sports intriguingly ambiguous numbers such as "Who Am I to Say" that go beyond promise to notable achievement. Earle's just as accomplished a conversationalist, as he demonstrates in an extended Q&A accessible at Backbeat Online. The man clearly knows his way around a phone.
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