Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Crowell's 2001 album The Houston Kid -- hard-won narratives in passingly autobiographical songs - hinted that he was getting a late-career second wind after some pretty indifferent albums in the late 80s/90s.
This album confirms that, after The Outside of 2005, his songwriting and story-telling skills certainly haven't deserted him and in fact when it comes to crafting a bitter socio-political polemic (The Rise and Fall of Intelligent Design, Sex and Gasoline) or an honest appraisal of life so far (the reflective Closer to Heaven, I've Done Everything I Can addressed to a growing daughter) he is right on he money.
He just pulls back from sentiment in The Night's Just Right ("you're an old fashioned girl at home in the modern world") but the country-funk of the rather obvious Funky and the Farm-Boy could have been happily sidelined.
Crowell isn't aging as quietly as some material here suggests and when he gets a mood on to rage against - or just poke fun at - the world around him he is certainly worth listening to. You can sympathise with his list of dislikes delivered with a sense of world weariness: "I don't like Hummers, I hate long lines, nosey neighbours and Venetian blinds, chirpy news anchors alter my mood, I'm offended by buzzwords like 'awesome' and 'dude' . . . but I'm closer to Heaven than I've ever been."
Produced by Joe Henry - who seems to be to middle-aged singer/songwriters what Rick Rubin is to the elderly - this has a crisp sense of space and presence also.
At least half of this album is up here with the best he has done in the past decade, and of the rest there are more than a few you'll be very glad to have heard.