Monday, 3 April 2017

Rodney Crowell - Close Ties, album review

After Years, Here and Now

This is a great album. Lyrically intelligent; musically honed from years of writing and performing - this might well be a career peak.

East Housten Blues sets us up with that quality that marks one out from the other – fine guitar work throughout, harmonies in the chorus, spunk in the beat. Next Reckless is into folk, a descending melody and song about drinking and women, judging by the evidence I’m feeling reckless.

Life Without Susannah remembers and regrets, and It Ain’t Over is an interesting immediate companion as Crowell duets with his former wife Roseanne Cash, a beautiful accompaniment when she does perform, Crowell writing my heart ain’t the problem, it’s my mind that’s a total mess, John Paul Jones joining in too, so a triplet in fact.

That’s the impact overall – these, if not confessional, apparently honest songs merging truth from experience and what we know about life having lived it for quite a while.

There is another duet, this time with Sheryl Crow, I’m Tied to Ya, a powerful plaintive song that has Crowell in the finest of emotive singing, so an affecting, perfectly-crafted song, and lyrically strong,

I've heard it said, beware the fist behind your lover's kiss
And stand up guys have knocked me down before
But to rise with you above the petty politics of bliss
I'll gladly make my heart an open door

but this actually follows my favourite on the album I Don’t Care Anymore which is a righteous rouser in its assertive and defiant reflection on past and present, regret again pervading the narrative where fortune or fame – so experiencing both – is ultimately meaningless as it is what it is in the here and now. The Country rap as it drives pulsing to its end is superb.

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