Was Steve Earle born to sing Townes Van Zandt songs? Was Van Zandt born to compose for Earle? On Townes, it sounds like it. Gone are the fluttering influences of Earle's recently adopted New York hometown and the outraged politics that have wreaked some havoc on his songwriting; Earle is back in home country. His snarl cuts into Van Zandt's gentle poetry like a scalpel, peeling back the layers and revealing each song's pulsing heart. More than a tribute to a major influence, Townes is a gorgeous statement of artistic affinity between two of Americana's greatest talents.