The video for “Maybe A Moment,” a track from Justin Townes Earle‘s upcoming eighth album “Kids In The Street,” is a bit of a blast from the past for the singer-songwriter.
The clip, directed by Alicia J. Rose, tracks two young women traveling together, hitchhiking and eventually ending up in a rundown club where Earle is performing the song on stage. “It reminded me a lot of playing the Springwater in Nashville,” Earle tells Billboard. “When I was 15 years old I would play from noon ’til seven at night there. There used to be this [girl] that showed up in mini-skirts and halter tops and she and her friends would dance in front of the stage. There’d be two old drunks at the bar, the girls dancing in front of me — and those girls never looked like the ones in the video, that’s for sure.”
And while the actresses seem to be portraying a lesbian couple, Earle hopes it’s open to interpretation. “Really, it’s just two young girls, one kind of egging the other on, like young kids do,” he explains. The song itself, meanwhile, is drawn from some of Earle’s own misspent, egging-on youth.
“It’s one of the more autobiographical songs I’ve ever written,” he notes. “When we were kids in Nashville whose parents wouldn’t pay attention to you, we’d stay out all night. By 12 and 13 I would jump in a car with older boys and go to Memphis to see punk rock shows, drink Olde English 800s, smoke shitty s–tty and try to get back before school — before we quit that and stopped going to school. We were doing all sorts of things we weren’t supposed to do at fairly young ages. Looking back nostalgically now I wouldn’t want to do it again, but there’s something amazing I always remember about that, getting into the car and taking off on the highway with a bunch of idiots.”
Kids In The Street is due out May 26, and marks the first time Earle has recorded outside of Nashville, working with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit) in Omaha, Neb. “When you grow up with Nasvhille musicians and all the people there, it’s hard to think about making a record anywhere else,” Earle says. “The first thing that drew me (to Mogis) was the fact he had mixed M. Ward’s Hold Time record and he also recorded Jenny Lewis’ Rabbit Fur Coat record; those were just amazing sounding records, and he has great ideas. I mean, nobody in Nashville would’ve said, ‘Let’s put a bajo sexto on this song;’ they would’ve tried to copy it with a guitar and something else and complicated it.”
It’s also Earle’s first album since becoming a father, And while he finds plenty to grouse about, particularly the gentrification of some of his old Nashville neighborhoods, on the album, Kids In The Street finds him significantly more settled and easygoing throughout.
“These songs were definitely from somebody who’s more clearheaded and married, for sure,” Earle acknowledges. “I think that I do see things from a more calm and lucid perspective these days, and that has a lot to do with my wife.” The couple is also expecting their first child in July. “We’ll see what the kid does to [the music],” Earle says. “This record was written and in the can when we found out she was pregnant. I was actually in the studio when I found out; I was just kind of, ‘Holy shit, I’m gonna have a kid’ and blanked out the rest of the night.”
Earle returns to the road Thursday (April 27) with The Sadies as his band, and shows currently booked into early June. “I couldn’t ask for a better band to do it with,” Earle says. “We’ve done shows together; I’ve opened for them, they’ve opened for me. We’ve never actually gotten a chance to work together, but I’ve been looking for a reason to for a long time, and here it is.”