Rodney Crowell is, without doubt, one of the great song writers of his generation. It can be argued that he is, in fact, one of the founding songwriters of modern Americana Music.
Coming out of Texas and the song writing “school” that centred around the home of Guy and Susannah Clark, Rodney grew into his song writing shoes in the company of writers such as Steve Earle, Townes van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker.
While the new album, “Close Ties” is something of a documentation of his history in songwriting, it is also a deep remembrance of Guy Clark.
The first “teaser” track released from the record, “It Ain’t Over Yet” set the tone and our expectations for what the record as a whole would be … an introspective commentary on the final third, or so, of a life, filled with a sense of coming to terms with mortality, while insisting that we are all, still, just learning how to fly.
“Life Without Susannah”, something of an inside story on Guy Clark’s final years with his wife prior to her death, is a brilliant and brutal song about the destructive effects of the loss of a deeply loved friend.
It would be very easy to see the song as a cry of surrender to the over powering finality of aging and death, and yet, in the context of the album, it is followed immediately by “It Ain’t Over Yet” and “I Don’t Care Anymore”, an ode to the positives found in letting go of vanity and youthful arrogance.
After a couple of songs dealing with the ties of a life long love (“I’m Tied To Ya”), and a plea for foregivness for past mistakes (“Forgive Me Annabelle”), the record concludes with a return to the beginning of Crowell’s journey as a songwriter, “Nashville 1972“.
It’s a long time since I have anticipated a forthcoming record with as much excitement as I have felt waiting for Close Ties to be released, and an even longer time since that sort of excitement and anticipation has ended with full satisfaction and a sense of all my expectations being met.
“Close Ties” is a defining moment in the career of a great songwriter … an album that transcends the obvious status as a collection of songs, and becomes a complete, coherent work unto itself.
“Close Ties” is our Feature Album of the Week on FolkNRoots Radio. and you can tune in for a full play through Monday afternoon at 3 PM Eastern time.