Rodney Crowell

Acts Playing South by Southwest

SXSW Records

Rodney Crowell

The Houston Kid (Sugar Hill)

It's been nearly six years since any new songs from Rodney Crowell, and The Houston Kid is a welcome return for one of the most prolific and successful songwriter/performers of the past 15 years. It's an autobiographical song cycle that explores the underside of his East Houston upbringing, focusing on the years 1956 through 1965. Through his words and melodies, Crowell paints one vivid picture after another of the characters that littered his life during that time: his battered-wife mom; a proud, struggling, and belligerent father; a bisexual hustler; and a small-time crook. Still, the track that's likely to generate the most immediate response is "I Walk the Line (Revisited)." Crowell's ex-father-in-law Johnny Cash sings the chorus as Crowell describes his 1956 encounter with Cash's signature tune and how it changed his life forever. Elsewhere, tunes like "Highway 17," "Rock of My Soul," and "Topsy Turvy" resonate with finely drawn images and highly charged musical setting. Crowell claims this project had a life of its own, one he needed to complete to discover who he is after a time of much uncertainty. He shares as much of his heart and soul as he possibly can, and it shines brightly through again and again. All we can do is sit back and marvel at the man's ability to weather it all and bring it to life in such a clear and moving fashion. (Saturday, March 17, Broken Spoke, 10pm)


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