Rodney Crowell (from the album Close Ties)

The Close Ties that Rodney Crowell namechecks in recent album title make an appearance as a memory in album track “Nashville 1972”. The tune turns the clock back to a Music City that saw musical legends walk through its doors as Rodney Crowell watches Steve Earle, David Olney, and Guy and Susanna Clark move to town and meets Willie Nelson at a house party. Close Ties extends a thread throughout the album for matters of importance to its author as Rodney Crowell sings a “Storm Warning” that hints at dark clouds with lyrical snippets of stark images, apologizes in an open letter to liberties taken in love with “Forgive Me Annabelle”, and admits to anger at losing a friend as he watches Susanna Clark’s reaction to the death of her best friend, Townes Van Zandt, take her into a descent littered with pills, cigarettes, and a loss she would never get over in “Life Without Susanna”.

Over the course of a career that began in the 1970’s, the common factor for the music in Rodney Crowell has been a constant level of quality in his songwriting. Close Ties is an audio perfect storm, the songs a marriage of personal recollection with his depth as a contemporary composer. Friends stop by to demonstrate that Close Ties give back to the songman as Rosanne Cash and John Paul White (The Civil Wars) lend voices for “It Ain’t Over Yet” and Sheryl Crow joins Rodney to wrap around the storyline in “I’m Tied to Ya”. Slide guitar helps “East Houston Blues” turn back the pages as Rodney Crowell scribes his youth into the song while Close Ties smooths out a groove, strumming “Forty Miles from Nowhere” and picked notes becomes the strict guidelines that counter the mood swings in “Reckless”.

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