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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Harlem River Blues
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:$13.54+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on February 8, 2015
Harlem River Blues is an amazing album filled with eleven tracks of gospel, alt-country, rockabilly, soul, and blues influenced music that is as much fun as any album I've listened to in years. It's the kind of album you put on and sing along with every word and feel better for having done it. The most upbeat album in JTE's catalog, Harlem River Blues eschews the melancholy moods of Single Mothers and Absent Fathers and Townes Earle's earlier albums in favor of an upbeat record filled with joy and beauty. I highly recommend Harlem River Blues to anyone who loves good music artfully done.
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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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on April 7, 2012
I am simply, plainly, and truly hooked on this album and artist as a whole. Listen to Justin Townes Earle with your ears and heart, and he will quickly make an impression on you as well. Bloodshot Records (Thankfully!) releases free samplers often. When Bloodshot Records Best of 2010 became available, I snatched it up as soon as I was able. This particular sampler contained the title track of this recording. I quickly realized that not only was Harlem River Blues my favorite track on the sampler, I could not contain the urge to play it over, and over, and over again. I HAD to have more JTE!

What continues to surprise and impress my about Justin, is the range of styles that he possesses. Harlem River Blues might have enticed me to purchase this disc, but tracks like One More Night in Brooklyn, Christchurch Woman, and Rogers Park are my amongst my favorites on this recording. Ain't Waitin' absolutely takes the cake though! It makes me ridiculously happy every time I hear it.

Download this. Do it now (April 2012) as it is one of Amazons $5 downloads. It is worth so much more... but if you save money on this one, you will have more available funds to purchase other JTE recordings! I hope that you add his music to your collection and Justin adds as much auditory pleasure to your life as he has brought to mine. Happy listening my friends!
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on September 13, 2010
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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on October 24, 2017
Like this album but a little too "country" for my taste
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on February 4, 2016
My very favorite JTE CD. I just love the contrast of the lyrics and the music. I love the sound so much I can play it over and over without getting tired of it. Justin's voice is so clear and honest. There is nothing at all pretentious about these songs. They are original. Love it.
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on September 5, 2017
Great album.
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on May 16, 2011
This is the first purchase I've made of Justin Townes Earle's music and it definitely won't be the last. I'm a Steve Earle fan so I thought I'd give his son a listen. Justin really does an amazing job of setting himself apart from his father while still sounding kind of similar.

I would recommend this CD to anyone who even remotely likes Hank Williams Sr. This isn't as straight-up bluegrass as I usually like, but it's still excellent. My only complaint is that some of the later tracks (like Christchurch Woman) don't make as much of a toe-tappin impact as the amazingly wonderful title track.
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on December 14, 2011
JTE does his famous dad proud. In an age when "real" country music is called "" (and real rock & roll is called alt.rock) Harlem River Blues is a collection of good, strong, organic tunes that don't look to be labeled, categorized, pidgeon-holed or otherwise contained by parameters that don't mean much of anything, anyway -- just songs which are well-crafted and thoughtfully executed with style. I saw this guy on TV performing the title track live, and bought the CD. I was not disappointed.
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on May 31, 2017
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