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Album of the Week: J.T. by Steve Earle & The Dukes

The KAXE/KBXE album of the week comes from Steve Earle & The Dukes called J.T. It pays tribute to Steve's late son, Justin Townes Earle, who died unexpectedly of a drug overdose in August 2020. Steve has said J.T. is an album he 'never wanted to make'.

The band covers songs from Justin's solo career, ending with an original song by Steve, written less than a week following Justin's death. 'Last Words' was written for Justin recalling their last conversation, a song Steve Earle has said is the only one he's ever written that's 100% true. Considering the elder Earle has also struggled with addiction, it's as though you can almost hear a sense of remorse, and utter sadness in his voice.

Though somber in places, there are also versions of Justin's songs that seem upbeat, and more focused on what a great story they tell. The father and son were certainly housed in the Americana world together, though such different artists; these interpretations of Justin's songs make it apparent that there is more in common than what one might think.

Steve Earle started recording J.T. less than two months after Justin's death;  he said he had to – ‘it was the only way I knew to say goodbye.’ It was released on January 4th, 2021, what would have been Justin Townes Earle's 39th birthday.

100% of the proceeds of J.T. will be donated into a trust for Justin’s 3 year old daughter, Etta St. James Earle.

The music director at KAXE since 2014, Kari (pronounced Car-ee) Hedlund reviews music on the daily. She also hosts New Music every Wednesday (2 and 10 p.m.) and Sunday (noon), along with the KAXE Morning Show on Thursdays.