Double Grammy Awards winner, two times ACM Award winner and numerous other huge awards in music – Rodney Crowell is definitely one of the very big names in country music. His debut album Ain’t Living Long Like This has been released in 1978, 45 years ago. On 5th May 2023, Crowell is releasing his 21st studio album overall – I just had to give The Chicago Sessions a listen. Just in line with the title of the album, the ten tracks have been recorded in the Wilco’s Loft in Chicago.
Rodney Crowell – About the Artist
Rodney Crowell was born on 7th August 1950 in Houston, Texas, USA. The peak of his career was very likely his fifth album released in 1988, Diamonds & Dirt. The album did not only receive golden records in the USA and Canada, it also featured five US Country Single Chart toppers (by the way, the only No. 1 hits he had in the USA). One of these songs was After All This Time, which lead to his first Grammy Award for the Best Country Song in 1990. 24 years later, he has been awarded for the Best Americana Album for Old Yellow Moon, recorded with Emmylou Harris. He is still very well reputed in the business, which is for example reflected by his Poet’s Award at the 2019 ACM Awards. In 2021, I also reviewed Crowell’s most recent album, Triage.
Rodney Crowell – The Chicago Sessions – Track by Track
The ten track album lasts 40 minutes.
Not too surprisingly, the first piano chords already tell you: this will be a rather traditional style of country music. Nonetheless, Rodney Crowell does not feel old-fashioned or outdated at all. Lucky is a nice piano-driven song, with a neat melody line. Definitely a good opener.
2. Somebody Loves You
While the opener was driven by the piano, Somebody Loves You is rather a guitar track. The acoustic guitar is strumming for four and a half minutes, the organ is adding some melodic elements to it. Overall, the song has a touch of blues and jazz.
3. Loving You Is The Only Way To Fly (feat. Sarah Buxton)
The melodic style of this song is closer to the opener. However, a key difference is that this song is a duet with a Sarah Buxton, which leads to a beautiful atmosphere. One of my favorites, indeed.
4. You’re Supposed To Be Feeling Good
A lovely example that Rodney Crowell may even sound rather modern are songs like this one. A strong and present melody, especially the chorus is a good catch. Especially towards the end of the track, You’re Supposed To Be Feeling Good feels very powerful and energetic.
5. No Place To Fall
This 3:21 minute song is the shortest one on the album. The song is rather slow and ballad-alike. Nice gentle vocal performance, which is again supported by a strumming guitar and the piano mainly.
6. Oh Miss Claudia
The sixth track stays rather slow. The vibes rather remind of Somebody Loves You and bring up the blues and jazz vibes. I’m a different man forever since you gave my sight. Does not seem to be a very positive experience with Lady Claudia, I guess.
7. Everything At Once (feat. Jeff Tweedy)
Jeff Tweedy, who has also been one of the co-writers of The Chicago Sessions, is supporting Crowell in this song. The rather repetitive style of the song and the present rhythm give this single release a nice ease and a touch of country-pop.
8. Ever The Dark
Ever The Dark is a rather remarkable track. With rock’n’roll tunes and a bit of a dark touch, it has a very own character. Crowell does sound a bit more traditional in here – but the song just has a nice vibe to make you sway to the sound. Nice electric guitar solo as well.
9. Making Lovers Out Of Friends
The melody of Making Lovers Out Of Friends sounds very familiar. I am not saying it is a cover version or similar, it is just a very characteristic 1960’s-type country music melody. By the way, Buxton is back in the chorus of this song again.
The only thing I see
Is no more you and me
When we start making
Lovers out of friends.
10. Ready To Move On
The final song is a nice chucker-out. A slow track, which is finally leading to the statement I’m ready to move on – and a longer fade out. Hope that there is some more music on this move by Rodney Crowell.
Rodney Crowell – The Chicago Sessions – Spotify
Here is the album on Spotify:
Rodney Crowell – The Chicago Sessions – My View
I feel that The Chicago Sessions have a straighter style and character, compared to Triage. This does not mean that I don’t like what I am listening to in here – Rodney Crowell shows a nice balance of rather nostalgic sounds (especially at the end of the album) and rather new tunes. More than that, he feels very straight and authentic in what he is doing. Like some two years ago, I really like what he is doing.
Country Music Legends