On Justin Townes Earle’s fifth album, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now, it’s all about nostalgia. Old loves, stomping grounds, and feelings are all dug up and reassessed here. While the album only clocks in at around 30 minutes, Earle still finds time to offer up a collection of personal reflections. It’s no coincidence then that the album was recorded in a converted church in Asheville, NC. Churches are used for confessions, and Earle has a lot on his mind.
It’s common for musicians to explore a single relationship or a fling over the course of an album. Earle, on the other hand, has a handful of girls who have had an effect on him, and they all get the spotlight at least once on this album. On “Look The Other Way,” Earle plays the guy who just wants another chance, growling, “I’ve been a fool/I know/I’m trying to find a way to show you that you’re the only one I’ll ever want.” But then on the title track, Earle drives his point home, repeating, “I never loved you/never loved/never loved.” Sometimes, though, Earle will turn the spotlight solely on himself like in the optimistic “Movin’ On.” Did I mention the songs about Earle’s favorite places, New York and Memphis? So yeah, Nothing’s Gonna Change… is pretty restless.
Earle’s tendency to wander might be more of a problem if the accompanying music wasn’t so intimate and alluring. The choice to record the album live with no overdubs in the aforementioned church contributes to the intimate feeling felt throughout. The alluring factor, however, comes from Earle’s new musical direction on the album. Employing a brass section, a Hammond B3 organ, and a variety of other instruments, Earle turns toward the sound of Memphis soul, running the gamut from slow and swaying (“Down On The Lower East Side”) to rollicking and enthusiastic (“Baby’s Got A Bad Idea”). Earle isn’t trying to make a cohesive point with this album, nor is he interested in settling into old grooves. His primary focus is to build on his sound and songwriting, while also taking a trip down memory lane in the process. Luckily, unlike some of the stories on the album, it works out for him.