Rodney Crowell

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Ain't Living Long Like This (1978), 7/10
But What Will the Neighbors Think (1980), 4/10
Rodney Crowell (1981), 6.5/10
Street Language (1986), 6.5/10
Diamonds & Dirt (1988), 6.5/10
Keys to the Highway (1989), 7/10
Life is Messy (1992), 5/10
Let the Picture Paint Itself (1994), 4/10
Jewel of the South (1995), 4/10
The Cicadas (1997), 4/10
The Houston Kid (2001), 6.5/10
Fate's Right Hand (2003), 6/10
The Outsider (2005), 5/10
Sex And Gasoline (2008), 5/10
Kin (2012), 4.5/10

Rodney Crowell was one of the most gifted songwriters of the Texas honky-tonk school of the 1970s and 1980s. His early singles Till I Gain Control (1977) and Ashes By Now (1978) were already notable, but Crowell's stellar songwriting was fully revealed by his debut album, Ain't Living Long Like This (Warner, 1978). The sprightly I Ain't Living Long Like This, the harrowing Song for the Life, the catchy Voila An American Dream and the evocative Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight cover an impressive emotional territory.

In 1979 he married country star Rosanne Cash.

By comparison, But What Will the Neighbors Think (Warner, 1980) was a major disappointment, but Rodney Crowell (Warner, 1981) added at least Stars on the Water and Shame on the Moon, his existentialist masterpiece, to the classics, and delivered strong performances throughout (Victim or a Fool, 'Til I Gain Control Again, Old Pipeliner).

Street Language (Warner, 1986) veered towards rock'n'roll and rhythm'n'blues (Looking For You, Stay, The Ballad of Fast Eddie). The lyrics went with the sound: honest, direct, scary (When I'm Free Again, When the Blue Hour Comes).

Diamonds & Dirt (Columbia, 1988) was his most commercially successful album, but also a lot lighter than the previous one: pure entertainment by his standards. A few of them were meant to please a broad, conservative audience (Crazy Baby, I Couldn't Leave You If I Tried, The Last Waltz, It's Such a Small World, She's Crazy for Leaving) and only one was meant to make people think (After All This Time). Surprisingly for someone who had largely been ignored by Nashville, Crowell became the first artist in history to reach the top of the charts five times in the same year with five of his own compositions.

The mood turned tragic again on Keys to the Highway (Columbia, 1989), that includes an impressive parade of lugubrious meditations: the hard-rocking My Past Is Present, The Faith Is Mine, Now That We're Alone, Things I Wish I'd Said, If Looks Could Kill, Soul Searchin', and one of his masterpieces, Many A Long & Lonesome Highway.

In 1992 he divorced from Rosanne Cash and celebrated the event with the single Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993).

This confessional trip continued on Life is Messy (Columbia, 1992), which is devoted to his divorce but lacks the same inspiration (What Kind of Love, Lovin' All Night, Life Is Messy).

Following albums were less and less original: Let The Picture Paint Itself and Big Heart, from Let the Picture Paint Itself (MCA, 1994), Please Remember Me, from Jewel of the South (MCA, 1995), We Want Everything, from The Cicadas (Warner, 1997), were among the few interesting songs.

Crowell's genius surfaced again on the autobiographical The Houston Kid (Sugar Hill, 2001), his best album in a decade, both soulful, tuneful and sorrowful (Telephone Road, The Rock Of My Soul, I Wish It Would Rain, Wandering Boy, Highway 17). It turned out to be the first installment of a personal self-examining trilogy, that was completed by Fate's Right Hand (2003), with Still Learning How to Fly Earthbound, and the harder The Outsider (2005), devoted to sociopolitical sermons.

Sex And Gasoline (2008) is a profound and at times ironic meditation on the contemporary world, but with little or no interest in the musical aspect of his songs.

Kin (2012) was a collaboration with writer Mary Karr, but neither the lyrics nor the music amount to much.

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