Although he left for Nashville in 1972, Rodney Crowell does hail from Texas. So it's fitting that the onetime country hit-maker and current Americana stalwart would draw on his heritage again for inspiration. And this new guest-laden set yields more riches.
Much of "Texas" rocks with a loose-limbed rambunctiousness, whether it's celebrating salt-of-the-earth types on "Flatland Hillbillies" (with Lee Ann Womack and Randy Rogers), saluting a classic ride on "56 Fury" (with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons), trading verses on "What You Gonna Do Now" with Lyle Lovett, or swaggering through "You're Only Happy When You're Miserable," which is powered by Ringo Starr on drums.
Elsewhere, Crowell slows for more contemplative turns. On the waltz-time "Deep in the Heart of Uncertain Texas" (a real place), he is joined by Womack, Willie Nelson and Ronnie Dunn as he delivers the revealing line: "I tried hard to leave here, but never did could." "Brown and Root, Brown and Root" revives a bit of Texas history and is performed with Steve Earle, who actually did this previously unreleased Crowell song live in the '80s. And "The Border," written 10 years ago but utterly timely, puts a human face on some of what is happening in that fraught area.
The album concludes with the rocking "Texas Drought Part 1." Crowell has indicated that there is, indeed, a Part 2. "Texas" makes you want to hear it, along with any other Lone Star-inspired efforts he might have.