Rodney Crowell definitely is considered a legend as a singer-songwriter in country music, and he has shelves full of shiny trophies in tribute to his talent. What matters most to Rodney Crowell, however, is that early on after coming to Nashville in 1972, a forever friend explained the difference between becoming an artist over a star. After what Crowell describes as his “half-hour” of fame, he stayed true to the trek of the artist, and he remains standing as one today. “Close Ties” released just yesterday, March 31, and already is surging up the Americana charts.

The album is a loving and genuine homage to the artist’s relationship with Guy and Susanna Clark, and his path of writing and living. That path led Rodney Crowell to some old and new voices, with very memorable results.

The difference that meant everything

Rodney Crowell received one of those divine, unexplainable blessings of life when he was taken in by Texas songwriter, Guy Clark, and wife, Susanna, soon after he arrived in Nashville in 1972. “There are a lot of stars in Nashville,” Crowell recalled with Anthony Mason of “CBS This Morning,” “but Guy said ‘If you’re an artist, you’ll stay longer’ and that’s why I’m here today. That’s the path I took.” Crowell experienced a blitzing thrust of success following the release of his 1988 album, “Diamonds & Dirt,” but detested the grind of “what comes next” after five chart-topping hits.

The songwriter found his comfort zone in sharing with other artists and staying true to what he feels.

New and familiar sounds

The song, “It Ain't Over Yet,” is especially poignant, with verses that open as Crowell shares the last stages of his friend’s life after years of battling cancer, along with verses that chronicle their years together, and their shared love for Susanna.

The voice that came to Crowell all through the words that echo Susanna was that of his own ex-wife, Rosanne Cash, who offered herself for the song. A voice that Rodney Crowell never dreamed of hearing belongs to John Paul White from Loretto, TN and formerly, part of The Civil Wars. “I love you,” were the words that came to Rodney when he heard White singing.

Crowell, Cash, and White joined to perform the song for “Saturday Sessions.”

Loving and resonant recollections

Pure tenderness pours through “It Ain’t Over Yet,” and heart beats through every harmony between the trio of voices. “Nashville 1972” looks back on Crowell’s younger years, under a glow of honest gratitude for the guidance of his true friends. Rich echoes of the haunts of Music City fill the mind as every word is sung. “East Houston Blues” is a simple, bouncy reflection of the hopes and dreams of the songwriter set against the reality of his journey. Along the way, Rodney Crowell has only grown more priceless as an artist.