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Justin Townes Earle, Sammy Brue Live at the El Rey

New West Records Troubadours Justin Townes Earle and Sammy Brue
Live at the El Rey, Los Angeles 6/3/17
By Chris Isom, Contributing Writer
Photos: Adrienne Cohen-Isom

Sammy Brue

Fusing indie-folk and country sensibilities with tender melodies and personal confessions, 15 year old Americana prodigy (who recently signed a deal with New West Records), Sammy Brue, offers up tales of loss, love and redemption. His debut album, I Am Nice was released on June 16. The protégé of Justin Townes Earle, Brue’s precocious finger picking reflects that of his mentor. His musical styling, far beyond his years. Brue sings in a high tenor that seems to belie some elements of a young Wayne Coyne, Neil Young or Daniel Johnston. His chord progressions faintly recalling elements of Elliot Smith. Although his songs span themes of love, breakups and coming of age, his lyrics have wry, whimsical asides and endearing humorous profanity. Brue’s reflective self-deprecating dimensions, reveal precociousness and maturity, making him an exciting artist to watch evolve over the years.

Justin Townes Earle

With his latest album, Kids in The Street, released on May 26, Justin Townes Earle takes a departure from the acoustic and somber tones of his last two albums. The sparse arrangements, replaced by a Stax Records style Soul. But no matter the tone, Earle’s approach is always effortless. His laid-back songwriting and scenic lyrics reveal an artist steeped in Americana sensibilities and folklore, as is self-evident in his pedigree as Steve Earle’s son, and his name, a nod to the late great Townes Van Zandt. Justin has an endearing millennial edge to his music that removes it from the realm of being a mere rehash of roots and folk. The conviction in Earle’s voice, lending to the authenticity of his lyrics. He crosses genres, in a fresh way, that puts him as a great songwriter in its own right. From Country, Blues and Soul, Earle’s storytelling is deeply rooted in the sources from which they spring, but reaches for new perspectives. Having lived in East Nashville, Chicago and New York City, Earle’s incorporation of urban themes mixed with roots music truly makes him unique. And no matter the genre he crosses, Earle continues to prove he is one of the greatest songwriters of his generation.

Justin Townes Earle with The Sadies

Justin Townes Earle’s live line ups have gone through many incarnations. From sparse country bands to rock and roll, his sound on stage, always reflective of his current musical mood. At the El Rey, Earle’s backing band was the long standing kings of the Americana, Surf and Garage Rock, The Sadies, who brought their meticulously honed music that was in their opening set and translated it to Earle’s set. Travis Good played baritone guitar, fiddle and mandolin. Dallas good, alternating between Wurlitzer, keyboard and guitar. Earle’s own rhythm guitar and finger picking, making the band something of a roots super group. The depth and texture of the music throughout the show from song and vibe, revealed the versatility of the songwriting and each artist’s interpretation of the eclectic material.

Chris Isom

Chris Isom

Chris and Adrienne Isom play in the Americana Rock band NOCONA. They also love to cover concerts around Los Angeles for TJ.
Chris Isom

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