Published Apr 23, 2013Following Steve Earle's previous two albums, the haunting I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive and the tribute to his mentor Townes Van Zandt Townes, the songwriter's latest release, The Low Highway, finds him returning to his first and greatest inspiration: the road. Musically, the album finds Earle delving into several genres, but its overall immediacy is reflected by the co-credit to his longtime touring band, the Dukes, now augmented by the Duchesses, including his wife Allison Moorer.
Among The Low Highway's most moving songs is "Pocket Full of Rain," which Earle reveals to Exclaim! was a product of his ongoing struggle with addiction.
"I did actually go through what the song's about," Earle says. "It was the biggest crisis in my recovery. It's not important why; when people go back out, it's because they stop going to meetings and stop calling their sponsor, which is not something I've ever done. Because I do all the stuff, I didn't pick up, I didn't use. But I wanted to for the first time in the 18 years I've been clean. I don't know how to explain it other than it happened, but it's proof that the [12 Step] program works."
Earle also opens up about his relationship with son, Justin Townes Earle, a successful singer-songwriter in his own right, who has recently had to address his own addiction issues.
"I hear from him less frequently than I do [son] Ian. I run into him at festivals that we're both playing. The last time I saw him was at Christmas and that was the first time I had all three boys together in one room. But he's got his own stuff to do. He's in the process of getting a new record deal since his deal with Bloodshot ended. So the short answer is, I haven't seen him very much."
Anyone curious about more details of Earle's personal life will get them next year when his memoir, I Can't Remember If We Said Goodbye, is published. Earle says it will be a literary memoir in the style of Bob Dylan's Chronicles and Patti Smith's Just Kids, separated into three acts focusing on specific periods of his life.
"The first part is about Townes and Guy [Clark] and a bunch of other guys you haven't heard of that were teachers in what I do," he explains. "The second part's about two guys who are first cousins who sort of battled for my soul and my business when I was at absolute rock bottom. And the third part's about my grandfather, who started most of the 12 Step meetings in northeast Texas. I should be able to get it all done on the road by my deadline in November since I don't have to make any of it up."
Earle's only immediate Canadian show is scheduled in Belleville, ON, on May 1, but he returns to Western Canada for a run of shows in late July. Find his upcoming Canadian dates below, and go to Earle's website to see his U.S. and European dates.
The Low Highway is out now on New West Records.
5/1 Belleville, ON - Empire Theatre
7/21 Kelowna, BC - Kelowna Community Center
7/26 Bengough, SK - Gateway Festival
7/27 Calgary, AB - Calgary Folk Fest
7/28 Edmonton, AB - Interstellar Rodeo