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Hear It First ~ KIN : Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell
by Kim Ruehl, for FolkAlley.com
A memoir can be a shaky thing. The author has to balance two very delicate plates: her memory and the truth. The latter is held prisoner to the former; what constitutes a story often depends on how it's told.
If you're doing it right, the same can go for songwriting. Of course, in the field of music, the storyteller gets to lean against a precarious pole of nonverbal communication, building dramatic tension through harmony and rhythm, emphasizing certain parts of a story by relying on the subtleties of the singer. Et cetera.
It's not surprising, then, that an award-winning, best-selling author and a similarly beloved songwriter might get together and make the kind of music which pretty much nails the very best things a story and a song are capable of achieving together. Indeed, Mary Karr (of Cherry, The Liars Club, Lit) and Rodney Crowell (of Grammy Awards and the Songwriter Hall of Fame) have done just that with Kin.
It doesn't hurt a bit that they've also gathered some of the finest song interpreters in the Americana field. Here's Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Vince Gill, and Lee Ann Womack - not to mention Crowell himself - delivering ten songs. Each is wrought with those things which haunt so many of our memories and truths: family, lovers, heartbreak, loneliness, feeling lost, feeling found, wondering, figuring it out, then back to family again.
As it turns out, Crowell and Karr grew up not too far from each other, in turbulent Texas homes drenched with booze and bitterness. Their childhoods had so many similarities, a certain kinship emerged (hence the title of the album). But, these aren't all songs about how messed-up family can be, how much it can hurt and confuse us; they're also songs about the ways in which it sustains and supports us as we reckon with our memories and the truth.
*Order KIN: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell at Amazon.com.*