Home Read News Rodney Crowell’s Chicago Sessions Tops Today’s Album Releases

Rodney Crowell’s Chicago Sessions Tops Today’s Album Releases

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy joins the Nashville veteran for latest album, arriving May 5.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Rodney Crowell will release The Chicago Sessions on May 5, 2023, via New West Records. The 10-song set was produced by Jeff Tweedy and recorded by Tom Schick at Wilco’s Loft in Chicago. The masterful, cross-generational collaboration follows Crowell’s acclaimed 2021 album Triage. Crowell delivers an incisive, engaging collection that balances careful craftsmanship with joyful liberation at every turn. Sounding both fresh and familiar, it’s among Crowell’s very best work.

As Tweedy puts it, “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.”

While looking at the cover of The Chicago Sessions, listeners might recognize 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 reflects. “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.”

The Chicago Sessions is indeed a throwback to the legendary Crowell’s early days of making records, but it’s no nostalgia trip. The songs are vital and timely, touching on everything from love and mortality to race and religion, and the performances are nothing short of intoxicating, fueled by raw guitars, honky-tonk piano, and tight, punchy drums. Tweedy wields a light touch as a producer, his influence subtle yet unmistakable. Schick’s mixes are dynamic and lively, alternately lush and spacious in all the right places, with a spotlight fixed firmly on Crowell’s warm, weathered vocals throughout.

Crowell has released the video for the album’s first single, Everything at Once, which features footage recorded at The Loft during recording. A co-write with Tweedy, the song walks a tightrope between hope and despair as it playfully wrestles with overstimulation in an overcrowded world. Perhaps no track better encapsulates the spirit of the record. Crowell explains, “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. The first, the aching You’re Supposed to Be Feeling Good, is a Crowell original first recorded by Emmylou Harris on her 1977 Luxury Liner record. While he had long intended to record it himself, the stars didn’t align until a new arrangement fell into place with Tweedy on guitar. The second, Townes Van Zandt’s No Place To Fall, had always held a special place in Crowell’s heart. “The first time I heard that song, Townes was sitting across the table from me at Guy and Susanna Clark’s house,” Crowell recalls. “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.

Photo by Jamie Kelter Davis.

For Crowell, it’s always been about the songs. Born and raised in Houston, he moved to Nashville in the early 1970s, coming to prominence first as a writer before establishing himself as a critically acclaimed solo artist in his own right. With 15 No. 1 songs on the country music charts throughout his career, along with two Grammy Awards, he has written hits for such country legends as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and George Strait, as well as for current chart toppers like Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. He’s been covered by R&B icons (Etta James) and rock legends (Van Morrison, Bob Seger).

Throughout the last 20 years, he has been celebrated by the music industry. In 2003, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2006 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting from the Americana Music Association. In 2017 he was honored with ASCAP’s prestigious Founder’s Award, and in 2019 he was presented with the Poet’s Award by the Academy of Country Music. In addition to his prolific output as a singer, songwriter, and producer, he also found time to become a celebrated author, publishing his memoir, Chinaberry Sidewalks, and a lyrical retrospective, Word for Word, both to widespread praise.

It would be difficult to overstate Crowell’s impact on country and roots music over the past 50 years. He may be a seasoned veteran, but the transcendent The Chicago Sessions feels like the first time all over again.”

And here are the rest of today’s album announcements:

March 10

De Arma | Synthwave Sessions Vol. 1
Rocket Science | Number Of The Beast Single

March 17

Kirk Degiorgio | Robe Of Dreams
Kill Shelter | The Sex Tape Sessions EP
Aaron Leaney & Guy Thouin | Lockdown
Pam Risourié | Days of Distortion

March 24

The Hello Darlins | In the Sundust EP
Men From The Nile & Peven Everett | Watch Them Come

March 31

The Drift Institute | Damages And Their Slices
Edredon Sensible | Montagne Explosion
Dean Mucetti & Rhythm Real | Isolate // Integrate
Kevin Robertson | Magic Spells Abound
Lis Sarroca | Our Times EP
Wadada Leo Smith & Orange Wave Electric | Fire Illuminations

April 7

Cub Sport | Jesus At The Gay Bar
Martin and Rose Music | Rain or Shine: A Nursery Rhyme Musical Adventure
Marcellus Pittman | Facid Trunktion

April 14

Suds | In The Undergrowth
Vasco Trilla / Ra Kalam Bob Moses | Singing Icons

April 21

Specimens | Power Pain Privilege
Ital Tek | Timeproof

April 28

Hackedepicciotto | The Current Reissue
Hackedepicciotto | Menetekel Reissue
Hackedepicciotto | Perseverantia Reissue
King Yosef | An Underlying Hum
Various Artists | Nomark Selects V.1

May 5

Rodney Crowell | The Chicago Sessions
Olivia Jean | Raving Ghost
Scorpions | Animal Magnetism Reissue
Scorpions | Blackout Reissue
Scorpions | Fly To The Rainbow Reissue
Scorpions | Humanity (Hour 1) Reissue
Scorpions | In Trance Reissue
Scorpions | Love at First Sting Reissue
Scorpions | Lovedrive Reissue
Scorpions | Savage Amusement Reissue
Scorpions | Taken By Force Reissue
Scorpions | Tokyo Tapes Reissue
Scorpions | Virgin Killer Reissue
Scorpions | World Wide Live Reissue
Samuele Strufaldi | Davorio
Upsammy | Germ In A Population Of Buildings

May 12

Bohannons | Night Construction
Bring The Hoax | Single Coil Candy
Craven Faults | Standers
James Ellis Ford | The Hum
Bobby Harden & The Soulful Saints | Bridge Of Love
Helen Money & Will Thomas | Trace
Kristian North | Pseudoscience Fiction

May 26

Chain Of Flowers | Never Ending Space
Deep Dyed | Unmade Beds
Panic Pocket | Mad Half Hour
Tooli | Traxx From The Vault Vol​.​1

June 2

Band Of Holy Joy | Fated Beautiful Mistakes
David Lance Callahan | Free Radicals / Evil Magnets
Gracie & Rachel | Nowhere Now Here
Gringo Starr | On And On And Gone
Priors | Daffodil

June 16

Bonny Doon | Let There Be Music
La Sécurité | Stay Safe!

June 23

Nat Myers | Yellow Peril

June 30

Ben Miller | Feathers of Ma’at

July 7

Me Lost Me | RPG