Rodney Crowell: Close Ties (New West)

rodneycrowellRodney Crowell
Close Ties
(New West)

It’s been a little over two years since multi-Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell released the critically acclaimed album, ‘The Traveling Kind,’ a duets album, with longtime collaborator Emmylou Harris. Now the crooner returns on his own with one of his best efforts in his illustrious career – ‘Close Ties.’

Co-produced by Jordan Lehning and Kim Buie, ‘Close Ties’ houses 10 tracks which playout like an autobiography of Crowell’s 50 years in music. From his start as a teen in Texas honky-tonks, to his venture to Nashville where he found love, lost love, broke some hearts along the way, and had a few cold ones in the process. It’s not a sordid tale, just an interesting and honest one. ‘Close Ties’ could be called a career retrospective in 10 songs, or even a loosely based concept album, with some of Crowell’s most intimate songwriting in years. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer and recipient of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting from the Americana Music Association hasn’t lost his touch after penning so many songs over the decades. In fact, he has gotten better. ‘Close Ties’ feels like Crowell is at peace with who he has become.

A strong indication of this is on the standout track “It Ain’t Over Yet,” where Crowell collaborates with his ex-wife Rosanne Cash and John Paul White in a beautiful duet. This marks the first time the former couple have appeared on a record together since their chart topping 1988 duet “It’s Such A Small World.” The track also features stunning harmonica playing from the legendary harp blower Mickey Raphael. Other highlights include the swing of album opener “East Houston Blues,” the pop of “Life Without Susanna,” the groove in “I Don’t Care Anymore,” the rocking “Storm Warning,” and the haunting ballad “Forgive Me Annabelle.”

Rodney Crowell’s intimate honest approach allows ‘Close Ties’ to be extremely accessible. The album challenges you to pick a genre if you must, but in reality you can’t. ‘Close Ties’ is just a fantastic record by a legendary musician.