Tarpaper Sky by Rodney Crowell

While Rodney Crowell has had his fair share of chart-topping singles, and a gold album with 1988’s Diamonds & Dirt, this Grammy-winning musical poet is more of a critical favorite than a commercial powerhouse. His lyrics are overflowing with imagery and meaning—both weighty and witty—and his voice is laden with texture. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Rodney isn’t exposing a new side of his creativity with the release of his latest album, Tarpaper Sky. What he appears to be doing is revealing that, even after more than 40 years in the music business, he’s still making music that holds up to the artistic precedents he has set with albums like 2013’s Old Yellow Moon (with Emmylou Harris).

Songs like the zydeco-influenced “Fever on the Bayou” and the vintage rock ’n’ roll feel of “Somebody’s Shadow” and “Jesus Talk to Mama” show the versatile nature of Rodney’s vocals, while songs like “Grandma Loved That Old Man” showcase his ability to spin a story set to a melody. And the harmonica intro on “Oh What a Beautiful World” is sure to induce a smile. 

Like most projects released by Americana singer/songwriter or heritage acts, Tarpaper Sky is best enjoyed like a book, in its entirety as opposed to a chapter here and there. Take in the whole story. 

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