Upcoming Projects Look to Expand Justin Townes Earle’s Legacy

photo: Joshua Black Wilkins

When Justin Townes Earle left us on August 20th, 2020, he left behind a musical legacy whose impact well surpassed his output of eight studio albums over ten years, or simply being yet another famous son of a well-known performer. The songs of Justin Townes Earle were the opening salvo and direct inspiration for the revolutionary strides that have been made in independent country and roots music over the last few years in the wake of his passing.

It turns out that we haven’t heard the last from Justin Townes Earle in recorded form. Leaving behind a collection of demos, rarities, live recordings, cover songs, and unreleased tracks, his final record label New West has assembled them all into a 2 LP, 19-song collection called ALL IN: Unreleased & Rarities (The New West Years) to be released on August 9th.

“Justin wanted to be known for his writing,” Justin’s widow Jenn Marie Earle says. “He began two books that all of us wish he’d had the time to finish. What we are left with is nothing short of extraordinary. He took his time, he poured his pain and heart into his writing, into his human experience. Justin left a mark on many thousands of people worldwide.”

Speaking to the power of a Justin Townes Earle performance, the release of his interpretation of the Fleetwood Mac song “Dreams” coincides with the announcement of the new album. It captures Earle in his most elemental state in a video directed by photographer and close friend to Justin Townes Earle, Joshua Black Wilkins. It was shot in New York City, Asheville, NC, and Nashville (see bottom).

Along with the 12 previously unreleased recordings and 6 never-before-heard songs of the album, a deluxe, limited edition release will include a 52-page hardbound book of Joshua Black Wilkins photography of Justin Townes Earle throughout the years. Wilkins shot every one of Earle’s album covers, starting with the 2007 EP Yuma.

“Had I not befriended and photographed Justin in 2006, I would not have a photography career,” says Wilkins. “Nearly every music-related photoshoot I’ve done can be traced back to the 14-year body of work I was entrusted to make. I hope you can see in his eyes and body language the openness he gave to my camera—and to me.” 

Justin’s longtime producer, friend, and collaborator Adam Bednarik also worked to bring the collection to life. “I witnessed firsthand Justin’s ability to captivate an audience while performing onstage night after night and to capture a first take in the studio,” Bodnarik says. “That will forever remain awe-inspiring to me. He is one of the best artists—if not the best—that I have ever had the privilege of working with. I will always be grateful for our friendship and the music we created together.” 

Similar but separate from the New West Records release, Justin Tones Earle’s longtime protégé, songwriter Sammy Brue, is also working on a project to bring some of Justin Townes Earle’s unrecorded songs to life. Earle fans will remember Sammy Brue from their numerous collaborations, including appearing on the cover of Justin’s 2014 album Single Mothers.

In September of 2023, Brue traveled to see Jenn Marie Earle, and they went through numerous boxes of journals and legal pads of Justin’s random writings. Some of these journals included songs in progress, and others included complete songs Justin never recorded. After scanning and cataloging all of the writings, Brue has now set out to record and release an album of these songs with a Go Fund Me drive.

I don’t know of another artist that inspired me more and to be more. Not just in Music, but in life,” says Sammy Brue. “He had his demons, but he would make it perfectly clear that that was not my road and to find my own path. I will never be able to thank him enough. That is why I’m doing this album. To say thank you to a mentor and friend.”

Sammy Brue is scheduled to record the songs in Muscle Shoals at Sundrop Studios with Ben Tanner of The Alabama Shakes in August. Proceeds will go to Justin Townes Earle’s family.

“We will forever be able to delve into and learn so much from what he created, how he held himself in this world, how he soared, and how he fell,” says Jenn Marie Earle. “There are so many deeply profound aspects of Justin Townes Earle for his loved ones and fans alike to embrace for all time.”

ALL IN: Unreleased & Rarities (The New West Years) is now available for pre-save and pre-order.

ALL IN: Unreleased & Rarities TRACK LIST:

1. Cold Comfort (Unreleased demo for The Saint of Lost Causes)
2. Already Gone (Unreleased demo for The Saint of Lost Causes)
3. I Know You (Unreleased demo for The Saint of Lost Causes)   
4. Troubled Eyes (Unreleased demo for The Saint of Lost Causes)
5. Lonely Mornings (Unreleased demo for The Saint of Lost Causes)
6. All or Nothing (Unreleased demo for The Saint of Lost Causes)
7. If I Was The Devil (Unreleased Demo for Kids in the Street)
8. Champagne Corolla (Live on Steve Earle’s Hardcore Troubadour Radio Show on SiriusXM)
9. So Different Blues (Live on Steve Earle’s Hardcore Troubadour Radio Show on SiriusXM)
10. Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover/unreleased bonus track from The Saint of Lost Causes)
11. Rocket 88 (Jackie Brenston & Ike Turner cover/Unreleased bonus track from The Saint of Lost Causes)
12. The Saint Of Lost Causes (Unreleased demo for The Saint of Lost Causes – a work in progress)
13. Appalachian Nightmare (Unreleased demo for The Saint of Lost Causes)  
14. Appalachian Nightmare (Album version from The Saint of Lost Causes)  
15. Over Alameda (Unreleased Demo for The Saint of Lost Causes)  
16. Over Alameda  (Album version from The Saint of Lost Causes)  
17. Glory Days (From Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute to Born in the U.S.A.)
18. Far From Me (From Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine
19. Graceland (Bonus track from Kids in the Street, limited 7-inch release)

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