Rodney Crowell – Triage
While the first cut “Don’t Leave Me Now,” starts off rather slow for an opening it’s a nice surprise to hear the song kick into high melodic gear with its somewhat Celtic/Irish Americana old-world charm connection. This is songwriting with dynamism. The Grammy-Award winner Rodney Crowell still sounds vital, accessible & exciting. The lyrics are literate, clever, expressive & it’s everything a novice songwriter should listen to & learn from.
Crowell is up there with Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark, & Dylan. Without a doubt. Over the last year, Crowell has had to record his collection with obvious obstacles but I hardly believe he’d be distracted. Plan B went into effect & the job got done with the quality expected. The instrumentation throughout is pristine, clarity well captured.
On the opening dialogue of “Transient Global Amnesia Blues,” Crowell takes a page from Chip Taylor’s speaking tone. The song has drama but never overreaches.
The 10 cuts on Crowell’s 18th studio LP Triage (RC1/Thirty Tigers) were produced by Crowell & Dan Knobler (electric guitar/acoustic guitar/synth) at Goosehead Palace in Nashville, TN & features a variety of impressive players (too numerous to mention). Peppered throughout their contributions on a myriad of instruments.
Crowell plays vintage Gibson acoustic guitars & there were several “crews” of musicians that assembled to play on the new set of Rodney originals. The title cut moves along slow with endearing somewhat jazzy piano notes, cohesive guitars & literate Crowell lyrics, as expected. On “One Little Bird,” Rory Hoffman provides the poignant harmonica with Audley Freed’s electric/acoustic guitars. Delightful stuff.
“Something Has To Change,” adds a growling trombone (Raymond James Mason) that adds a vivid touch to an otherwise simply good song. Mr. Crowell knows how to shake that powdered sugar on his pastries.
Rodney’s voice isn’t necessarily a purveyor of strict country fluency. He has a neutral voice applied liberally & well to a varied collection of exceptional songs & styles. His material may not be as intense & dark as Tom Waits, as humorous as the late John Prine. But he has the Chip Taylor-Kris Kristofferson songwriting quality that always reaps well-deserved listening. It’s entertaining yet provides a listener with compelling narratives.
“It’s All About Love,” is a low-octane rocker that even injects Vladimir Putin into the lyric. Clever words, riveting structure & groove. The tune delivers a commercial punch with a snaky guitar (Joe Robinson) & husky female backup. If there were jukeboxes still in saloons this would be a jukebox favorite.
Roseanne Cash lends backup vocals with Jakob Leventhal on “Hymn 43” (not the Jethro Tull song) & John Leventhal (acoustic guitar/mandolin/bass/organ/percussion/vocals). Larry Klein (former Joni Mitchell bassist & producer) appears on “Triage,” & “This Body Isn’t All There Is To Who I Am.”
The 43-minute CD is available @ https://www.rodneycrowell.com/