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Keys to the Highway

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kerry Dexter
After making his commercial breakthrough as a performer with 1988's Diamonds and Dirt, Crowell, already a veteran songwriter, producer, musician and recording artist, followed up that album's success with Keys to the Highway. While the album does show evidence of being rushed to take advantage of Crowell's newfound popularity, it does feature several standout tunes. "My Past Is Present" reflects on the persistence of a long-gone love affair, while "If Looks Could Kill" is an edgy, dryly humorous meditation on the same subject. The title track evokes the wide spaces of western highways and the neon-lit bars that offer a temporary refuge...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kerry Dexter
After making his commercial breakthrough as a performer with 1988's Diamonds and Dirt, Crowell, already a veteran songwriter, producer, musician and recording artist, followed up that album's success with Keys to the Highway. While the album does show evidence of being rushed to take advantage of Crowell's newfound popularity, it does feature several standout tunes. "My Past Is Present" reflects on the persistence of a long-gone love affair, while "If Looks Could Kill" is an edgy, dryly humorous meditation on the same subject. The title track evokes the wide spaces of western highways and the neon-lit bars that offer a temporary refuge from the road.
All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
The success of Rodney Crowell's Diamonds & Dirt was a surprise, if only because Crowell had been making records for ten years with only modest sales. It was more country-oriented and less challenging than his previous recordings, but the album threw off a record-setting five number one country hits while remaining in the charts more than two years. Keys to the Highway, therefore, should have consolidated Crowell's status as a major country star; instead, it was a commercial disappointment from which he did not recover. Though Crowell had bowed to a traditional approach somewhat on Diamonds & Dirt, he remained essentially a stylist as interested in folk, rock, and R&B as he was in country. At the same time, emboldened by his success, Crowell apparently wanted to try to recover some of his critical standing, and he also seems to have been influenced by the death of his father to be true to himself. Momentum pushed the leadoff single, the slow, thoughtful folk-rock ballad "Many a Long and Lonesome Highway," into the country Top Five, but it was not what fans of Diamonds & Dirt were expecting, and despite the neo-Nashville sound of second single "If Looks Could Kill," which reached the country Top Ten, Keys to the Highway failed to make the country Top Ten or go gold. It's a much better album than that history suggests, however, carefully balanced between exercises in early rock & roll and rockabilly, country-soul, mainstream '60s-style rock, and even dyed-in-the-wool country. Keys to the Highway didn't have the songwriting depth of Crowell's early albums, but it was more substantial and more varied than Diamonds & Dirt, and if handled well, it might have been even more successful. Instead, it remains an album yet to be really discovered.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/26/2008
  • Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
  • UPC: 886971866223
  • Catalog Number: 718662

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Rodney Crowell Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar
Rosanne Cash Vocals
Ashley Cleveland Vocals
Eddie Bayers Drums
Barry Beckett Organ, Piano
Donivan Cowart Overdubs
Glen D. Hardin Conductor
Hank DeVito Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar
Paul Franklin Steel Guitar
Vince Gill Vocals
Mark O'Connor Fiddle, Mandolin
Michael Rhodes Bass
Vince Santoro Drums
Steuart Smith Acoustic Guitar, Guitar
Harry Stinson Vocals
Jim Hanson Bass, Vocals
Technical Credits
Rodney Crowell Arranger, Producer
Tony Brown Producer
Tony Brown Producer
Donivan Cowart Engineer
Glen D. Hardin Arranger, Orchestral Arrangements
Randy Kling Mastering
Steve Marcantonio Engineer
Glenn Meadows Mastering
Steuart Smith Arranger
Bill Johnson Art Direction
Randee St. Nicholas Cover Photo
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