The story behind Justin Townes Earle’s new album starts and ends with its title. By accident or design, “Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now’’ is a candid commentary on his bad behavior in 2010 that led to a public meltdown and another trip to rehab. Earle, like his father, Steve, has a long history with substance abuse. These new songs, which cut right to the bone, acknowledge that and sound like the work of an artist with his tail between his legs. At various points he mentions the idea of being a better man, but he’s also upfront that he’s not sure how he’ll accomplish that. The introspection suits Earle’s subtle shift from raucous country to mellow Memphis soul with the tasteful addition of horns and more organ. This album doesn’t sugarcoat his indiscretions, but it does let a sliver of light seep into the darkness. The closing track is a declaration that Earle’s past won’t dictate his future. Again, the title tells you everything: “Movin’ On.’’ (Out Tuesday)ESSENTIAL
Justin Townes Earle performs at Somerville Theatre on May 16.