Crystal City by Chelsea Crowell

This left-of-center singer/songwriter, whose parents are Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell, follows in her folks’ (and grandfather Johnny Cash’s) footsteps only in the sense that her work bears the same uncompromising quality for which her forebears are known.

Like her mom, whose latter-day work has been as welcomed by discerning listeners as it’s been ignored by radio, Chelsea deals in the poetic and the unapologetically emotional, unhampered by standard country music conventions. The often moody and downcast offerings contained here are influenced by everything from Dylanesque folk, atmospheric 1950s pop and old-school country as well as the Texas songwriter school that spawned dad Rodney (most notably on the sprawling, storytelling title track) but are imprinted by the unvarnished indie-rock sound favored by the younger generation, and may alienate those outside it.

Mom Rosanne, in an NPR interview, mentioned that Chelsea had asked her how a singer could find success but avoid fame. With the highly personal and seemingly anti-Nashville-styled Crystal City, she’s well on the way to achieving that goal.


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