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Various artists: Kin: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell

Vanguard Records

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When writers talk, they talk shop. When they write, they create art. When songwriter Rodney Crowell and author Mary Karr discovered their shared Texas roots, they took it upon themselves to collaborate on a song cycle exploring those roots. Kin is a collection of tunes about family, place, love, loss, and experience that speaks in almost universal terms. And regardless of one's life events, the duo finds a way to make each piece personal yet comprehensive. With guest vocalists such as Vince Gill, Rosanne Cash, Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams (who contributes showstopper "God, I'm Missing You"), and Kris Kristofferson, the songs are emotional cherry bombs that get the loving treatment they obviously deserve. Records don't get much better than this. (5 out of 5 stars)

Rodney Crowell plays Eddie's Attic on Fri., Aug. 31. $25-$30. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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