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Rodney Crowell Has Ladies On His Mind For New Album

Of the Oakland Press

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Rodney Crowell's new album, "Sex & Gasoline," is one for the ladies -- but not quite like THAT.

Instead, the celebrated Nashville singer-songwriter's latest work, partly inspired by his daughter, draws connections between commerce and sexuality, as well as media imagery that, Crowell feels, tend to dictate a negative set of ideals to young women.

"What's the pinnacle commodities of our culture? As far as I can tell, sex and gasoline," explains Crowell, 58, whose "Shame on the Moon" was a 1982 hit for Bob Seger. "That's the idea that informed quite a few of the songs I wrote over the course of coming up to this record -- and actually while making the record, too.

"I think a girl has a very difficult time finding out who she is today with the Britney Spears and Paris Hiltons grabbing headlines and being put out there as how to be successful...instead of using just good ol' solid intelligence and seductiveness. I'm not making judgments about those girls; the judgments I'm making are more about our culture and the media that pervades it."

The set that vision to music, Crowell enlisted Joe Henry, the Rochester Adams graduate (and Madonna's brother-in-law), who's won kudos for his work with Solomon Burke, Aimee Mann, Bettye LaVette, Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint and others. Besides being "very bright, very articulate, very well-read, very empathetic," Crowell says having Henry on board allowed him to focus on his own performances, which had a marked effect on the album.

"When you produce your own records, you try to help everybody get to the end of the page together and so sometimes I don't play and sing as well as I should," Crowell says. "Having Joe there with his lads, guys I didn't really know before we got into the studio, all I did was play the guitar and sing.

"The end result is the first-ever record I played every note and sang every word live. We didn't overdub anything but the background vocals and, God, that's what I was longing for. Making a record with a producer is a conversation, and I really enjoyed this conversation."

The Rodney Crowell Acoustic Trio performs at 8 p.m. Monday (Oct. 6) at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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