When you meet Justin Yates, you'll notice that he has a great deal of energy, underscored by a trace of uncertainty. He's 26 years of age, has accumulated some emotional baggage over time, and as a result, has a great deal on his mind, much of which is difficult for him to navigate with other human beings in normal conversation, as it's often painful and messy material to explain. Put a guitar in his hand, however, and an immediate transformation takes place. Any uncertainty he may have had about himself and his role in the world around him disappears, and Justin becomes intensely focused, playing his instrument with the sure-handedness of an expert. He sings with the kind of confidence and authority that only the strongest storytellers possess. It's sort of a shocking thing to bear witness to.
Justin is a self-taught guitar player. He used to play metal and worked with a number of bands in the North Shore area, but nothing ever really stuck. He never felt strongly connected to any of the other players, and after awhile, Justin gave up on performing within the genre and bought an acoustic guitar. And met a girl. And fell in love. And it was great.
And then it ended.
Heartbreak rarely breaks along clean lines, and Justin's particular heartbreak in his case, without getting into all of the rough details, was, well... agonizing for him. Justin Yates is an artist, and artists typically find deep meaning in the slightest detail and are therefore more sensitive than the general population. So he went off the deep end for awhile. That's how those things sometimes go, as anyone who has had their heart broken can attest. It can happen to anyone. The difference between Justin and just anyone is that he has the ability to turn his pain into art. Songs about heartache are nothing new, of course... heartache is a human condition that has fueled the twin engines of blues and rock & roll for decades now, but Justin's unique and eloquent compositions represent yet another generation's entry into the canon.
Written by Jeff Moody
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