Rodney Crowell does not need to write or record any more songs. If he simply stopped doing so, his legacy would still sit firmly among the upper echelon of songwriters in American history. Lucky for us he doesn’t feel the need to stop seemingly any time soon. Following last years Grammy winning duo album with EmmyLou Harris, Crowell just released Tarpaper Sky last week.
It never ceases to amaze me when someone who has been producing such great work for over three decades, continues to release records that do not seem forced or stagnant. Some of Rodney’s best work in my opinion has come long after his supposed peak in the 80’s. Albums like Fate’s Right Hand and The Outsider have shown that Crowell is still very much a master of his craft, and Tarpaper Sky is right in line with those records.
Rodney took the helm, producing this album, his first on New West Records and the sound ranges from straight country classic to Buddy Hollyesque throwback rock and roll. Being Rodney Crowell has its advantages when it comes time to have folks come sit in on a record, appearing on this one are the likes of Vince Gill, Ronnie McCoury, John Cowan, Will Kimbrough, Jerry Douglas, Fats Kaplin and many others. All of which add layers to the richness of the record.
Crowell’s lyrics and comforting vocal sound are still at the forefront of every track. On “Grandma Loved That Old Man” he offers a tribute to his grandparents in a way that paints them both in a good light while still acknowledging their human flaws. Later on the album, “Jesus Talk To Mama” offers a plea to Jesus, asking that the Lord reassure his mother that he will eventually be joining her in heaven. Crowell dips into the well of love songs for the tender hearted “I Wouldn’t Be Me Without You”, a straight forward declaration of undying adoration.
Tarpaper Sky does not have a bad song on it, which is exactly what we have all grown to expect from Rodney Crowell. I fully expect this album to find its way on to my top albums of the year as well as many other people’s list when the time comes. New West has scored again by signing a legend whose prime refuses to subside in any manner. If you have not already gotten a copy of this record follow this link and purchase it from Amazon and help support the Broken Jukebox at the same time: Tarpaper Sky