Having seen Justin Townes Earle play these Hank Williams Sr. and Jimmie Rodgers-inspired honky-tonk numbers with his string band combo, I can tell you that Nashville producer R.S. Field and busy sessioneers Pete Finney, Bryn Davies and Bryan Owings wouldn’t have set aside the time to make this album had the guy’s surname been anything but Earle.
Fortunately for Steve Earle’s hard-living chip off the old block, those Music Row vets make a living out of turning mediocre songs by third-rate singers into hits. And while there’s no obvious chart heat here, The Good Life will get more attention than it really deserves. The 25-year-old Earle may have the false front teeth to show for his hard livin’, but he hasn’t yet figured out how to translate it into unique, memorable songs.