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Rodney Crowell | Texas

The Houston Kid celebrates his home state with the help of some famous friends.

WHO IS HE? The Houston kid who became a Grammy-winning country star. The former husband of Rosanne Cash and son-in-law of The Man in Black. The artist whose enviable discography includes Diamonds and Dust, Fate’s Right Hand and last year’s delightfully barbed holiday set Christmas Everywhere. And most importantly, one of the finest singer-songwriters ever to come out of the great state of Texas — which is really saying something.

WHAT IS THIS? Just what it sounds like — an album of Texas-centric tracks he’s written and/or recorded over the past several years. But he’s not the lone star here: The star-studded set includes cameos by Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Ronnie Dunn, Billy F. Gibbons, Randy Rogers, Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Steve Earle, Ringo Starr and others.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A master at work — and at the top of his game. After 40-plus years and 19 albums, Crowell knows what he’s doing, how to do it right — and how to make it look easy. Plus, his hickory-smoked pipes and everyman lyrics continue to get more potent and expressive with age. No wonder he was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame earlier this month.


HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While taking a road trip from one end of the state to the other. Or, if that’s not an option, while consuming chicken-fried meats.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Grounded, authentic, twangy, tasteful, sincere, inviting, warm, casual, understated, dramatic.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? More rocking fare like 56 Fury (featuring ZZ Top’s Gibbons), You’re Only Happy When You’re Miserable (with Ringo), and the bouncy What You Gonna Do Now (co-starring Lyle Lovett) will grab you right away — but darker gems like the Tex-Mex ballad The Border and the political folk ballad Brown & Root, Brown & Root (with Steve Earle) will sneak up on you.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘No wonder all those people wanted to be on this album.’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Whenever you want to hear one of the best roots releases of the summer.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE BEER, WHAT KIND OF BEER WOULD IT BE? Lone Star. But only if you can’t get your hands on Shiner Bock.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Don’t mess with Texas.