Even though he's only in his mid-twenties, Justin Townes Earle has already lived a lifetime. As a teenager, he worked as a touring guitarist for Nashville acts like the Swindlers and the Distributors — which was good preparation for a stint playing with his father, Steve Earle. The younger Earle also developed a serious drug and alcohol addiction that nearly cost him his life. Now clean and sober, the Nashville native is becoming a well-respected up-and-coming singer/songwriter in his own right. The warm, vintage country he produces has a timeless authenticity and road-weary desperation that's rare to find in someone so young these days. "Who Am I to Say," from this year's The Good Life, is a sparsely arranged ballad that floats along on a bed of lightly picked acoustic guitar and bellowing upright bass. The song perfectly echoes lonely romantic sentiments about managing love without possession, empathy without judgment and keeping hope in a future that's never guaranteed.
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