Tarpaper Sky

Tarpaper Sky

by Rodney CrowellRodney Crowell


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Rodney Crowell's last two offerings have been collaborative albums. First was 2011's Kin, an uneven collection written and recorded with novelist Mary Karr; 2013's Old Yellow Moon marked his reunion with Emmylou Harris. It was a decent record, but steeped in nostalgia rather than fresh energy. Tarpaper Sky is a no-nonsense collection of Crowell songs unrestricted by concept, played by the core band from 1988's Diamonds & Dirt--guitarist Steuart Smith, drummer Eddie Bayers and bassist Michael Rhodes--as well friends. Justin Neibank helmed and mixed these sessions; he gets the essence of Crowell's sound perfectly. The standouts tend to be the mid-to uptempo numbers. The opener "The Long Journey Home" references in feel and architecture -- if not anthemic force -- Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender," but it's more empathic and tender than dramatic. "Fever on the Bayou," co-written with Will Jennings, tosses just a touch of Louisiana into Crowell's Texas-cum-Nashville gumbo. "Frankie Please" is raucous modern rockabilly with killer guitar from Smith. It draws from the same untamed root sources that Bob Dylan's "Thunder on the Mountain" does. The rough and tumble honky tonk blues of "Somebody's Shadow," co-written with Quinten Collier, has an uncharacteristic tenor saxophone in its barroom swagger, and it works. "Jesus Talk to Mama" is swinging country rockabilly with Smith's licks adding to its strut and a gospel backing vocal courtesy of Vicki Hampton. "The Flyboy & The Kid" is classic Texas Americana (and dedicated to mentor Guy Clark). The simple melody adorned with accordion, mandolin, Jerry Douglas' dobro, and Bayers' popping snare, underscores an inspired vocal delivering exceptionally poetic lyrics. Among the slower tunes, "Famous Last Words of a Fool in Love," a duet with Shannon McNally reveals that life's twilight may be visible on the horizon, but the present moment is meant to be fully embraced. Likewise, the country waltz "I Wouldn't Be Me Without You" is one of Crowell's finest love songs in years. Themes of of memory and gratitude wind their way through some of Tarpaper Sky 's songs, but they don't frame the album as a whole. This is Crowell at his best: focused, balanced, clever, at times profound. It's a welcome return to form.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/15/2014
Label: New West Records
UPC: 0607396630424
catalogNumber: 6304

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Rodney Crowell   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Jerry Douglas   Dobro,Guest Appearance
Eddie Bayers   Piano,Drums
Pat Buchanan   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
John Cowan   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Steve Fishell   Steel Guitar,Guest Appearance
Vince Gill   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Vicki Hampton   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
John Hobbs   Piano
Jim Horn   Saxophone,Guest Appearance
Ronnie McCoury   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Michael Rhodes   Bass
Deanie Richardson   Fiddle,Guest Appearance
Steuart Smith   Organ,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Harmonica,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Chely Wright   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Will Kimbrough   Acoustic Guitar,Accordion,Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Michael Rojas   Piano,Guest Appearance
Tim Lauer   Harmonium,Pump Organ,Guest Appearance
Perry Coleman   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Robert Bailey   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Tania Hancheroff   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Fats Kaplan   Mandolin,Guest Appearance
Shannon McNally   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Jerry Roe   Drums,Guest Appearance
Cory Chisel   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Dan Knobler   Electric Guitar,Guest Appearance
Mike Ferris   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance

Technical Credits

Rodney Crowell   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Peter Coleman   Engineer
Donivan Cowart   Engineer
Will Jennings   Composer
Justin Niebank   Producer,Engineer
Steuart Smith   Arranger,Producer
Drew Bollman   Engineer
Paul Moore   Art Direction
Dan Knobler   Producer,Engineer
Mary Karr   Composer
Quinten Collier   Composer

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