Rodney Crowell

Small Worlds: The Crowell Collection 1978-1995

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Small Worlds: The Crowell Collection 1978-1995 epitomizes why Rodney Crowell is a perfect example of the "new" country, a combination of styles creating slick pop music that would have had a tougher time in the '60s garnering the country & western play many of these songs achieved. There are lots of names lending their talents on these 21 tracks: Vince Gill, Dr. John, Emmylou Harris, Nicolette Larson, Booker T. Jones, Hal Blaine, and Russ Kunkel, among many others. "Let the Picture Paint Itself" borrows more from Elton John/Bernie Taupin's "Country Comforts" than it does from Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley P.T.A.," though you can hear nicks of both melodies in this song, which is very different from both those tunes, and Roy Orbison lives again on Crowell's duet with former wife Rosanne Cash on the title track, "It's Such a Small World," as well as on "I Couldn't Leave You if I Tried" and "If Looks Could Kill." "If Looks Could Kill" is certainly not the song by Heart, but when Crowell references the Beatles and quotes their lyrics in "Lovin' All Night," one has to consider if the inspiration is coming from the land of Hank Williams or the realm where the sisters Wilson ruled. These influences seem to be co-writing with Rodney Crowell when he reads a brilliant lyric like, "What kind of love hears you when you pray?" in "What Kind of Love," composed by Crowell with Will Jennings and Roy Orbison, additional voices courtesy of Linda Ronstadt and Don Henley. Emulating Orbison by having his voice go into that texture is a tribute to his hero indeed, and very present on this "first multi-label career overview." Tracks were culled from releases on Warner Bros., Columbia, and MCA, making for another excellent collection from Australia's Raven Records with 21 tracks, over 77 minutes of music, all on one disc. And like 7-N/BMG's meticulous re-releases, Raven's come spilling over with definite and comprehensive liner notes, 16 pages here, making this repackaged music all the more vital for longtime fans as well as a great primer for the uninitiated.

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