Rodney Crowell

Texas (RC1 Records)

Texas Platters

Star-studded duet albums piecemeal jukebox affairs ripe for fun, but seldom serious literature of the Lone Star troubadour ilk. Texas thus wafts by lighter than Rodney Crowell's grittier work this past decade, which produced only gold (Close Ties, Tarpaper Sky) and silver (both duo LPs with Emmylou Harris). Typical for the Houston country and folk standard's musical intellect and ambition, however, substance underlies style in the unifying concept identified by the album's title. Co-crafted with Steve Earle lieutenant Ray Kennedy, and eight of 11 tracks guesting a Crowell crony, not all the material connects ("Deep in the Heart of Uncertain Texas"), but the pairings prove pure. Bar bump-n-grind "What You Gonna Do Now" co-stars Lyle Lovett and the Halliburton blues of "Brown & Root, Brown & Root" comes co-coyoted by Earle in a flat-out catalog highlight for either. A sharp-dressed Billy Gibbons turn and Vince Gill jaunt mix it up with pickin' Willie Nelson and stickin' Ringo Starr. Permission to mess with Texas.

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