Justin Townes Earle is stepping outside his home in Nashville, Tenn., to continue our telephone interview, which has been interrupted several times by cell-phone reception problems.
"I have a really old house," says Earle, who will perform Thursday at The Social in Orlando. "There's probably lead paint and God knows what else. I'm moving soon, but I'm based in Nashville now. I didn't intend to be, but my mom's starting to get older. She needs help and it's hard to do that when you live in New York."
Although Earle is sticking close to family, the son of politically charged singer-songwriter Steve Earle has managed to forge his own successful career outside of his father's formidable shadow.
The son received glowing reviews for his fourth studio album, "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now" (2012), a collection steeped in the gentle side of Memphis-flavored R&B. In the wake of that success, Earle made his first foray into producing other acts, working behind the boards for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Jackson on her "Unfinished Business" album.
Despite the generational gulf — Jackson is age 75; Earle is 31 — the vibe was relaxed and honest, Earle says.
"She was very easy to talk into things, but she also was quick to tell you 'No,' if she didn't want to do something — and I liked that," Earle says. "She came in with stuff she wanted to do and I came in with stuff I wanted to do, and they were pretty opposite. But we put together a good record because we compromised. She got some of hers and I got some of mine."
That comfortable work environment helped Earle overcome pressure that he might have felt, following the high-profile presence of Jack White (The White Stripes) into the producer's role. White had received acclaim for his work with Jackson on her 2011 comeback album, "The Party Ain't Over."
By comparison, "Unfinished Business" is a less flashy showcase for Jackson's voice, which is accompanied by an understated studio ensemble of bass, drums, pedal steel and guitars. Earle and Jackson even collaborated on an old-school country duet, "Am I Even a Memory?" and starred in a music video for it.
"I felt like I was able to give Wanda a record she's excited about," Earle says about making the album. "I feel like she's been surrounded by Colonel Tom Parker figures for a long time, people who had her on their shoulders her whole career."
When it comes to his own music, Earle prefers a solitary work environment. He focuses on coming up with about a dozen songs a year, material that is conceived as privately as possible.
"I made a deal with myself when I was 18 that I wouldn't write more than 10 to 12 songs a year. That was all I needed for a record and it gives me time to think about it a little bit more."
Earle overcame a slide into drug abuse before recording "Nothing's Gonna Change," a cocaine-fueled period that resulted in the singer's 2010 arrest after reportedly trashing a dressing room at an Indianapolis club and striking the daughter of the club owner. He went to rehab and kicked his bad habits, he says.
"I've been very lucky up to this day that my drug habit has never stopped me from being able to do my job, but I also know that I'm not that lucky," says Earle, whose father has battled similar issues. "It is the myth that you have to be tortured to feel, but that's really not the case."
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Justin Townes Earle
What: In concert with opening act Cory Chisel
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10
Where: The Social, 54 N. Orange Ave., Orlando