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Harlem River Blues

June 28, 2013 | Format: MP3

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Product Details

  • Release Date: June 28, 2013
  • Label: Bloodshot Records
  • Total Length: 31:43
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B00415Q1MG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,602 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Mark #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 13, 2010
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Harlem River Blues is the kind of album that makes me wish that more people I knew listened to Country music. I run in several different musical circles. Many of the jazz lovers I know laugh at me for my love of Indie Rock. And for many of the Indie and Alternative Rock fans I know, the Alternative-Country thing doesn't exist. To them there is only Country, and they don't like Country music much.

But an album like this can remind us that good music is just good music, no matter what category you want to put it in. I'll even go so far as to call this "great music" because it resonated with me personally in a way that I think is great. Your individual tastes may vary so please forgive me if this is not your cup of tea.

Some people might think a country album inspired by New York City to be a contradiction. I think the juxtaposition works to great effect. The city was once a rural settlement, and away from the business centers and high rises there are still areas that remind you of a different time or place. Not to mention, the city has always attracted people from the country looking for a living. This album is like a chronicle of the songs that just one such lonely soul might have written after moving to NY from Tennessee.

Some of the songs are more upbeat romping tunes, like the title track "Harlem River Blues" and the very fun "Move Over Mama." And perhaps the best of the bunch, "Ain't Waitin'," has an infectious melody that just fits so perfectly with the lyrics. But by and large, this is a laid back relaxing album, the kind you might play on a Saturday afternoon.

My favorite song on this album is tough to pick.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By John Terry on September 13, 2010
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I was waiting patiently for my cd copy when Amazon dangled a three dollar download in front of my face. Seemed like a fair price to pay to hear it a day early. Things sure have changed for Justin. He grew up without famous father Steve, developed a nasty drug habit by the age of 12 and actually ended up in his father's band The Dukes. That was before he was given the boot for his drug use. Kicked out of The Dukes for drug use? Considering pop eventually went to prison for his drug use, I can only imagine. These days, Justin is the 2009 best new artist for the Americana Music Awards, one of GQ's best dressed men and a resident of New York City just like his dad. "Harlem River Blues" is a hillbilly soul, backwoods twanger of a dustbowl folk album about New York City. Some of my favorites include the gospel choir backed, toe tapping title track. Should I be clapping my hands as the main character heads for a watery demise in the Harlem River? "Move Over Mama" sounds straight out of the Memphis Sun Studios playbook. "Workin' For The MTA" and "Wanderin'" sound like Justin is channeling former Manhattan resident Woody Guthrie. 'Christchurch Woman" sounds the most like his father to me. I could go through every song but why don't you just buy it? Download it, order the cd, do both, I don't care. This is a record that deserves to be heard by a man who started out knowing what he was doing and seems to only be getting better.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By DanD VINE VOICE on September 13, 2010
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
It takes a certain brilliance to dupe listeners. Justin Townes Earle pulls it off marvelously. HARLEM RIVER BLUES sounds like it could have been been written/performed in the 50s or 60s (except "Rogers Park," which is appropriately modern-sounding). It's a largely acoustic-based record ("Slippin' and Slidin'" is a more electric blues number), with melodic influences firmly rooted in Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry, etc. "Ain't Waitin'" is such a tune, with a driving acoustic riff that conjures up beer halls and back alleys...which is why, when he sings "I put a country station on that satellite radio," it comes off as a major revelation.

Almost every song on here manages to blend the past and present. On "Working for the MTA," a chugging number which artfully (and subtly) compares running a subway train to working in a coal mine, Earle bemoans: "This ain't my daddy's train/Mama I ain't seen the sun in days." Lyrically, Earle comes off as a mixture between Warren Zevon and lighter Dylan ("Christchurch Woman," for example, is one of the most poetically imagined songs I've heard in a while); he's concerned with the working man, and to him, the working man is Everyman, from the days of freight trains to the days high-speed Internet. As such, HARLEM RIVER BLUES comes off as one of the more intimate, intricate country/folk records I've had the distinct pleasure of listening to. Justin Townes Earle easily slides out of his father's (Steve Earle) shadow, crafting an album that is destined to withstand the test of time--because these songs, both melodically and lyrically, are themselves timeless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2010
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Recording a traditional American folk album about New York may seem a lofty premise, but Justin Townes Earle is artist enough to accomplish it. He samples musical styles ranging from Woody Guthrie and the Carter Family to Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt to create a musical landscape as wide as America and as specific as one city. This album is inventive, ambitious, and packed with intense musical power.

Sprightly, danceable tracks like "Ain't Waitin'" and "Move Over Mama" make good contrasts with more melancholy tracks like "Rogers Park" and "Learning to Cry." And though the title track proves that America's rural folk tradition can fit right at home in our largest city, songs like "One More Night in Brooklyn" and "Workin' for the MTA" reveal that Earle feels that frontier restlessness even in his adopted home city.

If I had to voice one complaint, this album runs to LP length, barely over thirty minutes. Just as I vanish into Earle's sonic cityscape, it ends and I'm back home again. He creates such a complex, multi-faceted portrait of his beloved NYC that I want to stay longer, immersed in the railroad tunnels, crowded streets, and rivers. And that's my highest praise: I only wish it were longer.
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