New West Records have announced the release of a new album by Rodney Crowell, ‘The Chicago Sessions’ which lands on May 5th, 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. As Jeff 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.”
Today, 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. Of the track, 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.
The Chicago Sessions will be available across digital platforms and on compact disc and standard black vinyl. An extremely limited pressing of 100 copies on Royal Blue vinyl will be available only in Chicago record stores, while 1,000 copies will be pressed on Denim Blue vinyl and sold at independent retailers worldwide. A limited-to-300 Green vinyl edition autographed by Crowell is available exclusively for pre-order now via New West here.
The Chicago Sessions Track Listing:
2. Somebody Loves You
3. Loving You Is the Only Way to Fly
4. You’re Supposed to Be Feeling Good
5. No Place to Fall
6. Oh Miss Claudia
7. Everything at Once (feat. Jeff Tweedy)
8. Ever the Dark
9. Making Lovers Out of Friends
10. Ready to Move On
What a great song.