Thursday, March 2, 2023
– Rodney Crowell will release "The Chicago Sessions" on May 5 via New West Records.
The 10-song set was produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and recorded by Tom Schick at Wilco's Loft in Chicago. This is the follow-up to Crowell's 2021 album "Triage."
Tweedy said, "The way that Rodney writes is deeply connected to a classic era of country songwriters that I've always loved. In my estimation, it's as close as I can get to working with Townes Van Zandt or Felice and Boudleaux Bryant — people who crafted songs with a very specific sensibility. And I like being near that."
The cover of "The Chicago Sessions" – an angled picture of Crowell against a cream-colored background - offers a familiar callback to Crowell's 1978 debut, "Ain't Living Long Like This."
"In a lot of ways, this album feels like that very first record to me," Crowell said. "When my daughter suggested we lay the artwork out similarly, the connection made perfect sense. There's something very simple, very innocent about it. It's just me and the band in a room together, loose and live and having fun."
Crowell released the video today for the first single, "Everything at Once," which features footage recorded at The Loft during recording. Crowell said, "It occurred to me that Jeff and I are both songwriters, and we ought to write something together for this album. We could have harmonized on it and gone down an Everly Brothers route, but ultimately we decided to just sing in unison and throw it out there like an all-skate. I love that we didn't get too precious about it."
While most of "The Chicago Sessions" consists of newly written material, Crowell revisits two tracks from the 1970s - "You're Supposed to Be Feeling Good," a Crowell original first recorded by Emmylou Harris on her 1977 "Luxury Liner" record, and Townes Van Zandt's "No Place to Fall."
While Crowell had long intended to record the former song himself, that didn't happen until a new arrangement fell into place with Tweedy on guitar.
Of he Van Zandt song, Crowell said, "The first time I heard that song, Townes was sitting across the table from me at Guy and Susanna Clark's house. He said, 'Hey, I've got a new song for you,' and it's been imprinted on my psyche ever since. I wanted to record it as an homage to somebody that I learned a lot about songwriting from."
Crowell brought three players with him to The Loft — guitarist Jedd Hughes, pianist Catherine Marx and bassist Zachariah Hickman — while enlisting Windy City natives John Perrine and Spencer Tweedy (Jeff's son) to split drumming duties. Jeff Tweedy appears on vocals, guitars and banjo throughout.
The track listing is:
2. Somebody Loves You
3. Loving You Is the Only Way to Fly
4. You're Supposed to Be Feeling Good
5. No Place to Fall
6. Oh Miss Claudia
7. Everything at Once (feat. Jeff Tweedy)
8. Ever the Dark
9. Making Lovers Out of Friends
10. Ready to Move On