Rodney Crowell Sex & Gasoline

Produced by the legendary Joe Henry and backed by an ace team of Nashville sidemen, the Houston Kid’s latest is another Americana gem. The disc opens with a diatribe on what makes this "mean old world” run. Crowell has a wonderful wit and a tongue-in-cheek way of capturing the essence of the current zeitgeist; in less than five minutes this sardonic song encapsulates everything gone wrong with the world. This theme of trouble in our times carries the record; these are Crowell’s musical manifestos, seen most clearly in the politically-charged "The Rise and Fall of Intelligent Design,” with biting lines that get to the heart of the matter and expose the hypocrisy that political leaders hide behind. Crowell also adopts a female persona, trying to reason with this world from the fairer sex’s point of view, hoping to feel what he dubs "their phantom power.” Throw in some tender ballads ("Truth Decay” and "Forty Winters”) and Sex and Gasoline offers 11 literate songs that explore the human condition; it’s yet another gift from this songwriter’s songwriter. (Stony Plain)