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This Album Changed My Life: Lisa De Angelis On ‘Harlem River Blues’ by Justin Townes Earle

16 June 2022 | 3:03 pm | Staff Writer

To get to know Americana singer-songwriter, Lisa De Angelis better, we asked her to tell us about an album that has changed her life.

Lisa De Angelis

Lisa De Angelis (Image: Supplied)

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Singer-songwriter Lisa De Angelis is a Brisbane-based firecracker with a knack for composing the kind of hard-hitting Americana twang tunes that'll have you wanting to buy an Akubra and conquer the world. 

After her previously released debut Tumblin' Back (we premiered the music video here) started her strong with rotations at ABC Radio Country and CMT, she recently released her follow-up Hunger Pains.

Lisa says, "Hunger Pains is truths about myself dressed up as the musings of an 1800s American outlaw. I love Westerns and the visual of cowboys and outlaws in the desert: the yearning for freedom and to live an interesting life and to stay a few steps ahead of ones’ demons has always resonated with me."

Having only picked up a guitar for the first time in September of 2017, her resume is impressive. After graduating from the Country Music Association of Australia’s prestigious Academy of Country Music in 2019, Lisa has wasted no time making a name for herself. She has toured with and opened shows for Steve Kilbey of The Church, Grinspoon frontman Phil Jamieson, blues guitar prodigy Nathan Cavaleri, as well as Golden Guitar winner Catherine Britt.

Lisa is currently recording her debut album, due for release in 2022.

To get to know Lisa better, we asked her to tell us about an album that has changed her life.

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Lisa De Angelis on Justin Townes Earle’s Harlem River Blues:

"The first time I heard Justin Townes Earle I was driving a hire car in the snow somewhere west of Madison, Wisconsin. I was backpacking the US and had just been broken up with, so I was on my way to visit a roadside attraction called ‘The House on the Rock’ to cheer myself up. 

JTE was live on the only radio station I could pick up, playing his song Harlem River Blues – and as soon as the chorus hit, I slammed on the brakes and pulled the car over to hear it fully. What was this?! Those lyrics, that guitar style! It was like a lightning strike for me; I’d never heard Americana music before, and this was the sound I’d always wanted to hear – this was the sound I wanted to make.

When I got back to Sydney, I went straight out to buy whatever album had Harlem River Blues on it (the album had the same name, so it was easy to find), and so I ended up with my first JTE album.

Harlem River Blues is, for me, JTE at his best: musically equal parts brooding and rollicking, lyrically both tongue-in-cheek and totally vulnerable. The loneliness of Rogers Park; the introspection of Slippin’ And Slidin’; the playfulness of Move Over Mama - delicious! This album spans the entirety of the Americana genre and then some, with gospel choruses and spirited harmonica and a beautiful use of horns.

For me, JTE’s particular genius lay in his ability to make traditional country music that’s lyrically relevant to modern audiences. His honesty has been hugely inspirational for me as a songwriter because I felt how powerful it was to hear that as a listener. If you haven’t heard Harlem River Blues yet, go listen to it right now. It’ll change your life, too."


For more of our This Album Changed My Life series, go here.
And keep up to date with Lisa De Angelis, follow her on Facebook here.