Review: Rodney Crowell – The Chicago Sessions


Rodney Crowell - The Chicago Sessions

Rodney Crowell – The Chicago Sessions
Format: CD – Vinyl LP – Digital / Label: New West Records
Release: 2023

Text: Bert van Kessel

Rodney Crowell has once again managed to come up with a superb album, thus living up to his status of true Americana icon.

‘The Chicago Sessions’ was produced by Jeff Tweedy and recorded in his studio The Loft in Chicago. Their co-operation has resulted in ten tracks that are characterised by looseness and vitality.

They have managed to rekindle the free spirit that Crowell was as a young artist in the seventies. He took three Nashville cats with him to Chicago, Jedd Hughes on guitar, Catherine Marx on piano and Zack Hickman on bass, and to achieve maximum spontaneity they started recording loose and live, just aiming at having fun, without listening to the demos first.

They used drummers from Chicago, one of whom was Spencer Tweedy, Jeff’s son Jeff Tweedy himself appears on vocals, guitars, and banjo throughout. Eight of the  tracks are new Crowell originals, three of them co-writes. They are complemented with an older Crowell original, You’re Supposed To Be Feeling Good, which Emmylou Harris recorded for her Luxury Liner album and the beautifully sung No Place To Fall, an homage to his old pal Townes Van Zandt.

Catherine Marx’s joyously rollicking piano on the opening track Lucky exemplifies the good-humoredness that pervades this album. The poignant Somebody Loves You is classic Crowell and features a raw electric guitar. Loving You Is The Only Way To Fly is darker and more intimate; it has a lovely female harmony vocal.

The beautiful and immersive Townes classic No Place To Fall is followed by the light-hearted ditty Oh Miss Claudia with exciting interplay of various acoustic guitars with the piano in full support.

The absolute highlight of the album is the Crowell/ Tweedy co-write Everything At Once, which is sung by the two of them in unison very convincingly.. The melancholy closing track Ready To Move On leaves us in regret that this gripping listening experience  has come to an end.

This very enjoyable album is a fine addition to Rodney Crowell’s impressive body of work and confirms once more his reputation as an excellent songwriter and fine singer.

01. Lucky
02. Somebody Loves You
03. Loving You Is the Only Way to Fly
04. You’re Supposed to Be Feeling Good
05. No Place to Fall
06. Oh Miss Claudia
07. Everything at Once (feat. Jeff Tweedy)
08. Ever the Dark
09. Making Lovers Out of Friends
10. Ready to Move On