Reviews

Rodney Crowell’s Close Ties


By Jake Tully

Never one to shy away from the audacious niche of country-western, Rodney Crowell’s brutally truthful autobiographical escapades do not see any sign of stopping on Close Ties. Grappling with aging, old habits and the complexity of human nature as it exists within the microcosm of dive bars and hotel rooms, Crowell is as sharp and biting as ever. Close Ties may not be Crowell’s swan song, but it is certainly a definitive release in the second act of his illustrious career.

Amidst the mandatory Crowell gloom, the record finds a sliver of obligatory hopefulness. The sunny “It Ain’t Over Yet” finds the troubadour battling with his utility as a musician, aided by Roseanne Cash and the historically lauded John Paul White. It may seem peculiar for Crowell to call upon his friends in a piece not built as a platform to commiserate, but it works just fine as a means to shed some tough hide.

Close Ties sees Crowell in a vulnerable stasis of realizing his acute self awareness regarding his fame. Though frequently the reluctant showman, Crowell seems especially circumspect of ascribing to any stardom through the vehicle of the record. Even Sheryl Crowe’s appearance on “I’m Tied to Ya’” is indicative of his wariness. Tapping a bankable personality to aid in extoling the mythos of stardom is patently Crowell, and yet another reason as to why he has remained such a driving force in his genre.

The album is (quite literally) brought home with the closing number “Nashville 1972,” a tender look back at the genesis of Crowell, as it were — and a suspiciously Randy Newman-esque title to boot.  Crowell may not be entirely thrilled with the present state of 2017, but he’s far from allowing it to temper his sour mood.

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Jake Tully

Jake Tully

Based out of the San Fernando Valley, Jake is a LA transplant who is fascinated with the history and continuation of the Americana scene in Southern California. After moving down to the area to pursue a degree in Journalism from CSUN, Jake has found seemingly countless opportunities to find new music in the Greater Los Angeles area and the friendly disposition of the folks interested in the music. Jake enjoys going out in the field and chronicling the culture surrounding festivals and shows dedicated to keeping country music alive, but finds just as much solace in taking an evening to sit back and letting his vinyl collection wash over him. He believes there is a still a great deal of explanation to be done in order to help explain the divide between pop country and the bonafide music, and has made it one of his goals to entertain this notion through his writing.
Jake Tully

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