Rodney Crowell, "Tarpaper Sky" (New West)
At 63, Rodney Crowell's ready to cross over. On "Frankie Please," a highlight on his new album, the Nashville singer-songwriter tosses out rhymes like some prolific young rapper: "Your p's and q's and don't and do's are all the news to light my fuse."
Don't worry -- Crowell doesn't rap. Instead, he pairs the rat-a-tat lyrics with a Chuck Berry-style tune. It's good fun.
The 10 other tracks on "Tarpaper Sky" also find Crowell in fine form. The album has been in the works since 2010, when Crowell began recording with some of the musicians who contributed to his 1988 breakthrough, "Diamonds & Dirt," including stellar guitarist Steuart Smith. Other projects intervened to delay completion, but the new album is worth the wait.
Crowell reflects on the harmony of friendship and the rhythm of life, but mostly has women on his mind. "Tarpaper Sky" is about love, lust, loyalty, longing and the good songs they can inspire.