Rodney Crowell, longtime guitarist for Emmylou Harris, hit songwriter for Waylon Jennings and the Oak Ridge Boys, demonstrates artistic integrity here, refusing to cave to country-pop trends. Nothing here is calculated; the album was recorded live in a studio.
You can call Keb’ Mo’ a lot of things, but “unpredictable” isn’t one of them. His blues tradition is more down-home than hard-charging, more Delta than Chicago. His 11th album is basically more of this, and as usual it sounds great. Keb’ Mo’ doesn’t reinvent himself. Keb’ Mo’ plays the blues.
On the Söderberg sisters’ third album and their second with producer Mike Mogis, the sound is bigger and lusher, even utilizing strings and winds at times. But it remains rooted in ’70s folk rock, straight-ahead and fingerpicky and richly effective.
Chris Thile is equally committed to the mandolin—that oh-so-traditional instrument he plays so uncommonly well—and to progressive stylistic exploration. Often this makes his projects come off a bit cute, the Harlem Globetrotters of acoustic music. On paper, this audacious new crossover project—Thile playing J. S.
How to love the Trinity, its vagueness, non-sense, God talking to God on the cross? Theological geometry, stumper of metaphor, God humbled to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Only when I heard that voice singing Our songs shall rise to thee did I feel a welling of love that, at best, visits me occasionally in prayer, indwelling and expanding within me. Yes, God, the darkness hideth thee. Too often as I sit in the pews, nothing happens. Or worse, Nothing happens, doubt a scrim over every word I pray, a tepid mutter of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But that hymn’s falsetto, surrender, the not- knowingness of it—Lord, though I can not see, I did hear a shimmer, some wick in me caught fire, and fear, that liar, left me, momentarily, free in the Holy, music, the blessed Trinity.