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Review: Justin Townes Earle Refracts Roots Music on ‘Kids in the Street’

Forming a trilogy with 2014’s Single Mothers and 2015’s Absent Fathers, J.T. Earle’s latest teams him with Omaha indie-rock don Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) for his rangiest set yet. “What’s She Crying For” is a moaning honky-tonk weeper with pedal steel and roadhouse piano, “What’s Goin’ Wrong” is clarinet-spiked Texas swing impressionism, “15-25” is vintage New Orleans R&B gumbo in the Professor Longhair spirit, and “Same Old Stagolee” revives American folk music’s original gangsta to an unlikely vibraphone melody. Yet it always feels organic, never mannered. See the title track, acoustic guitar slicing through a pedal steel reverb-haze, Earle waxing nostalgic for a childhood in the 1990s with a timelessness that could conjure the 1890s just as well.

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