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Thursday, 24 April 2014 09:15

Charting the Music: Rodney Crowell, 'Tarpaper Sky'

Charting the Music: Rodney Crowell, 'Tarpaper Sky' David McClister
Written by Travis Dettmann

Following up his acclaimed album with Emmylou Harris in 2013, Rodney Crowell draws on songs written a few years back and rekindles his creativity with musicians from his '80s career. The result is his 14th solo achievement, "Tarpaper Sky."

"Tarpaper Sky" reunites Eddie Bayers, Michael Rhodes and Steuart Smith from Crowell's previous records. Crowell and crew offer the same comfort and familiarity from when they were at their peak of commercial success, but with wisdom gained from four decades of experience.

88.1 KDHX chart position: #1 Adult Album Alternative, #1 Americana and #1 CMJ Top 30 for the week of April 22, 2014.

Record label, release date and producer: New West Records released "Tarpaper Sky" on April 14, 2014; it was produced by Rodney Crowell, Steuart Smith and Dan Knobler with associate producers Michael Rhodes and Eddie Bayers.

Can be heard on: "Songwriters Showcase" with Ed Becker, "The Back Country" with Jeff Corbin and "Interstate" with Pat Wolfe.

RIYL: Guy Clark, Marty Stuart and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

Hometown: Houston.

Standout tracks: Whether by plane, train or automobile, "The Long Journey Home" is an optimistic tune about traveling far distances, even the distance of one's lifespan. Co-written with Will Jennings, "Fever on the Bayou" has been 20 years in the making. Forming his last verse by incorporating the Cajun French heard during Crowell's days as a laborer in the south, this zydeco tinged track immediately transports one straight into the wetlands without warning.

The artist: Jerry Reed is to thank for the discovery of Rodney J. Crowell as he had seen Crowell performing at an acoustic lounge show in Nashville, Tennessee. After a move to Los Angeles in the mid-'70s, he received a tap on the shoulder from Emmylou Harris to join her Hot Band as a guitarist. Shortly after producing on Rosanne Cash's debut "Right or Wrong," the two married, until their divorce in 1992. He received his biggest break with his 1988 release "Diamonds and Dirt," for which his song "After All This Time" earned his first Grammy Award for Best Country Song. Now, he is in both the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Music City Hall of Fame

Guests: Alabama-born artist Will Kimbrough is a singer-songwriter and producer who has collaborated with Todd Snider, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle. The 2007 Country Hall of Famer Vince Gill has recorded over 20 records, sold over 24 million albums and has received 20 Grammys. He and Crowell's history begins when they were in the Cherry Bombs in the '80s. Cory Chisel is without the Wandering Sons providing vocal harmonies for "Tarpaper Sky." In 2013, he helped curate the Mile of Music Festival in his hometown Appleton, Wisconsin; it included acts such as Norah Jones and Rodney Crowell.

Play it while: Taking the time to appreciate the life you've lived while reflecting on how you've much grown.

What the critics say: "Rodney isn't exposing a new side of his creativity with the release of his latest album, 'Tarpaper Sky.' What he appears to be doing is revealing that, even after more than 40 years in the music business, he's still making music that holds up to the artistic precedents he has set with albums like 2013's 'Old Yellow Moon' (with Emmylou Harris)." Tammy Ragusa, Country Weekly.

KDHX coverage: Kris Embry documented the KDHX-welcomed Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris shindig at the Peabody Opera House on March 17, 2013. Sarah Edwards covered "Kin: Songs by Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell" on Charting the Music on August 14, 2012.

Discover more new music on all the 88.1 KDHX charts.

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