TEXAS is an aptly named collection of songs featuring the Lone Star State as the main character and a supporting cast that includes cars, oil and gas companies, border tensions and all things Texan. The collection is presented impeccably by Crowell and co-producer Ray Kennedy as well as a collection of artists like only Rodney could assemble. Crowell’s authenticity is distinct and convincing. These songs travel Texas from the Rio Grande border to the Piney Woods of East Texas and everywhere between, and they’re rendered masterfully.
Crowell’s songwriting prowess is most prominently displayed with “You’re Only Happy When You’re Miserable” (featuring Ringo Starr) and the bluesy saloon-style piano fueled “I’ll Show Me.” Both songs display Crowell’s special ability to capture the best and worst of human nature. These are inward looking, and deeply personal songs that accentuate Rodney’s masterful songwriting style, as well as his zen-like persona. That style and ability continuously weaves its magic through the second half of the album. “The Border” allows the accordion and Mexican styled guitar to set a scene, as Crowell recites a story of anger, fear, corruption and desperation from a border agent’s point of view. Things begin to wind down with the Piney Woods outlaw tale “Treetop Slim & Billy Lowgrass, and the history lesson of “Brown & Root, Brown & Root” which simply shines with the deep rasp of Steve Earle cutting deep like he only can. Lyrically, Crowell’s words grab your attention, painting a vivid portrait that again touches flawlessly on the human condition.
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