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.
Saw two eagles swirling and dogging each other Over the river yesterday—courting or fighting— And not even the most veteran and experienced Observer could ever tell which it is they were at. There’s some deep crucial true thing to say here About loving and fighting, yes? You feel it too? But I am not quite sure what it is. All I can do is Point to the two eagles and say see what I mean? That’s what a poem is, it seems to me; a poem is A way to point at something we get but can’t say. So there are the eagles saying something graceful And painful and amazing. What is it? Exactly so.