I put off listening to this album for way too long. It wasn't procrastination, per se, but a way to savor it. I wanted to share it with my friend Thor, who bought me the phenomenal Harlem River Blues (2010) on vinyl & went to see JTE with me when he played at a local joint. It wouldn't be right to give a first listen without him. Sitting in my living room on a Saturday night, we both agreed that Kids In The Street was pure JTE.
There's a lot of heart in this album, Earle’s seventh studio affair. It's sincere and it's warm and it's an easy listen, a twangy Americana sound that is often cheapened with $50,000 pickup trucks and taco-shaped cowboy hats worn by brosephs charging $200 a ticket. Earle knows his stuff. There's all the roots of classic country here: jail troubles, old houses, all without feeling kitschy. Heck, even "Champagne Corolla" celebrates the gas efficiency of his dream girl's modest car, putting a modern spin on an otherwise worn-out trope, while the title track harkens back not to some vague imagined 1950s, but the not-so-distant past of 1993, Earle's own childhood years.
The production is a little soft. "Champagne Corolla" in particular sounds like it was recorded by singing into an answering machine. This isn't a bad thing; it actually lends a very funky sound to the album. I listened on Spotify, but I bet it would sound incredible on vinyl.
Earle has only gotten better since Harlem River Blues, and Kids In The Street is the natural progression of this upward trajectory. It's an album that gets better with each listen, cementing his own legacy firmly apart from his father, Steve Earle. And at 35, I can only imagine the best is still to come.
Notable Tracks: “Champagne Corolla” | “If I Was the Devil” | “Maybe a Moment”