Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell | Kin: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell

Vanguard (2012)
By NICK A. ZAINO III  |  June 5, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars

Crowell and Karr

Kin is a finely crafted country ode to home and family from a couple of writers who know the territory. Mary Karr has explored the themes in bestselling memoirs (Lit, The Liar's Club), and Crowell as a distinguished singer-songwriter and in his own memoir, last year's ChinaberrySidewalks. Karr and Crowell share a sense of geography — they met as adults but grew up about 100 miles apart in what Karr describes as the "East Texas Ringworm Belt" — and have the same love/hate/love relationship with the people and places of their formative years. But it always comes back to love. Kin is split equally between male and female voices, and covers alcoholic parents, the bonds of sisterhood, the pain of drifting apart from a childhood sweetheart, and the loss of innocence in leaving home. The characters, as portrayed by Crowell and guest singers Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Norah Jones, Vince Gill, Lucinda Williams, and Lee Ann Womack, are treated playfully or with sympathy. "I'm a Mess" is the kind of song Crowell has been perfecting for years. He knows the value of not just confessing your faults, but declaring them proudly, like a challenge met and defeated. The writing is as crisp as the playing, ornate but without added contrivance, a credit to producer Joe Henry. A tuneful 10-song novel.

RODNEY CROWELL + MARY KARR | Red Room @ Café 939, 939 Boylston St, Boston | June 6 @ 7 pm + 9 pm| All Ages| $25 | 617.747.2261 or

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