This album has no "It Won't Be The Last Time," no "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now," and worst of all, nothing like "Harlem River Blues" to lift the mood. "Looking for a Place to Land" is the closest thing to a standout track, but even it's sullied by an over-emotive, whiny delivery that lacks resonance. Anyone looking to see Earle follow through on his early songwriting promise will be left wanting by Absent Fathers.
Maybe he had to get this stuff off his chest; maybe it's a stepping stone to something a whole lot better. The sad irony of all this filial woe is that if Justin Townes Earle ever pulls it together and writes a complete album, then decades from now it won't be Steve Earle that music history remembers. (Vagrant)