Coming only a few months later, Absent Fathers is the flip side to Earle’s last record Single Mothers. Consider it a double album released in two parts. It’s a cracker as well, running in at just over half an hour. Earle has clearly struck a chord, hit his stride and composed and recorded songs that many could only dream of. It’s a beautiful set, for any country fan, and it even extends its appeal beyond those who milk that genre. His voice is soaked with life, love, heartbreak, and the songs reflect it well. It’s the sound of Earle having fun with all of that, bleeding onto his own art, revealing himself. It’s a fun record from both sides and makes a perfect pair with Single Mothers.
The confident opening ‘Farther From Me’ immediately shows Earle Junior’s gift. It’s effortless, sublime and so addictive. He clearly learnt a great deal from his father Steve and is now carving out his own highly entrancing path. It’s a gorgeous start, and it barely dips in standard from there on in. A relaxed vibe permeates most of the record. ‘Why’ drifts gently by, with delicious steel pedal guitars. It’s unlikely to change anybody’s world, but it’s the kind of record that settles in as a modern country classic. The balance between the instrumentation and Earle’s heartfelt vocal twang here is nailed to absolute perfection.
As with Single Mothers, it is hard to pick highlights on an album so consistently brilliant. There are simply no weak tracks. It’s an early gem of 2015 and nobody checking this out will be disappointed, surely. If you liked last year’s sister album then this can do no wrong. A great way to start the year, and no mistake.